Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Year End Wrap Up

I know my blog has been more about food than anything else lately, but I swear, if I keep it up I won't have to cook in 2008. My fridge is packed. It is actually making a sort of grunting groaning noise, I think it is in protest of being over packed. It's full with leftover catfish soup from Christmas Eve (which I'm now throwing out - old fish scares me), prime rib from Christmas, Chicken Satay, Wontons, Springrolls and Silver Wrapped Chicken from tonight, plus there is the ham and collard greens for tomorrow. It's a small miracle I'm not pushing 200 lbs. at this point. Oh, and there's all the leftover Christmas cookies still haunting me.

Francesca is now walking, actually she has been since December 14th. At fifteen months she's our latest walker, but she's also our most reserved, almost timid child, so I guess we should not be surprised. Today she tripped and landed smack on the corner of the bathroom cabinet. I should have taken a picture but I was too busy helping Vince get some ibuprofen in her. She's got a nice blue and purple rhino horn sticking out of her forehead. Other than that, she's been doing fine.This picture was taken right when she first starting walking, not since her deforming accident.

I tried to get a cute picture of the kids in front of the tree, but Francesca wouldn't cooperate. So I told her she was getting a lump of coal in her stocking.

Christmas morning we did our usual thing and made the kids get dressed and go to Mass first, because we're mean like that. Then we came home, got back into our PJ's, then opened gifts. Our Christmas was nice, but it's just not the same being away from my family, namely my mom and grandma. But that's what I get for moving half way across the country. I had a little better luck with the photo in front of the tree thing, I'm sure mostly because Vince was there to help.

Actually, I think Vince took this picture, I was still getting ready for Mass. Francesca looks like she's eyeing the packages and just biding her time. Everyone looked so nice though, and Annamaria wants to wear her Christmas dress everyday now. We've finally found something to distract her from that freaking Tinkerbell costume that she's outgrown but insists on wearing . . . every. . . single. . . day!

So it's 10:30pm on New Year's Eve. The kids are asleep, the house is quiet, and my stomach is full from our Asian Finger Food Feast. Time for PJ's and the couch. Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas, and has a great New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Six

All done, and just in time to put a cookie tray together to bring to our Pizza Night/Christmas Party.

Tender, buttery, pecan laden cookies, rolled in powdered sugar. Just don't inhale while taking a bite, or you'll end up choking on the sugar.

Candy Cane Sandwich Cookies
The recipe said to be careful not to overbake the cookies, or they will be too hard. Well, I baked them for the minimum amount of time, eleven minutes, and when you bite into one all the peppermint creme squishes out the other side. Yummy, but messy. I'll try making these again, and just reduce the cooking time.

And the final product . . .

The Christmas Cookie Tray

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Five

I felt like a slacker the other day, only getting one batch of cookies finished. So yesterday I was able to get three done, and get back on track. And only one day to go.

Marble Icebox Cookies

These are tender and simple. I think they're what the chubs of cookie dough in the refrigerated section of the grocery store are supposed to be, but just aren't.

Gingerbread Men

Vince loves gingerbread but I've never made it before. He took one bite and said it was the best gingerbread he's ever had. Right on. And they were fun to decorate too.

Snowman Sugar Cookies

Simple and lightly sweetened so it can take the extra sweetness from the frosting. I thought they came out cute, but one batch only turned out sixteen cookies.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Four

Ugh, still sick.

Chocolate Cherry Thumbprints

Soft, fudgy, pretty yummy I think. Again with the not really being able to taste too well. But the kids loved them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Three / Happy Birthday Sophia!

I'm sick. Sick and miserable. I feel like that claymation kid in the Kleenex commercial who's nose jumps off his face and hides when he tries to wipe it. And to make matter worse, today is Sophia's 9th birthday. Such a bummer for her.

I was planning on making gingerbread men and snowman shaped sugar cookies for the kids to decorate for a little birthday/Christmas fun, but so far I haven't been up to any baking. Vince went ahead and went to work this morning, he had a project that had to be completed today, or else eight days worth of work would have been for nothing. But luckily he was able to leave as soon as he was done, and got back home by ten or eleven this morning. I'm not even sure what time it was, I was back in bed after getting the babies taken care of this morning. So after a bit more bed time, I dragged my sorry butt out of bed and took Sophia to the mall.

Vince and I were planning on taking her to Roy's, our favorite special occasion restaurant, for her birthday dinner. But she wanted to go to Build-A-Bear Workshop. And since I can't really taste anything anyway, it would have been a waste of great food and a lot of money to go ahead and go to Roy's. And it's her birthday after all, so Build-A-Bear it was. She had a great time, and really took her sweet time on which animal to pick. Much to my discomfort, but she finally chose. She ended up with a kind of Christmas-fairy-kitty. And her name is Christie. Christie the Christmas Kitty. I think it's funny how kids give animals human names.

So I totally slacked on the birthday cake, and just ended up buying her a cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory. But honestly, how could anyone complain about a cheesecake from the Cheesecake factory? I think that fulfills my birthday cake dreams, even if a cheesecake isn't technically a cake. And since cake decorating is not my forte, anything I could have come up with would not look quite so nice.
See, I'm trying to ease my guilt over being a slacker mom on my oldest daughter's birthday.

So we came home, and Sophia got to unveil her gift, a new bicycle. She's out riding it right now, so I think she was pleased. Again, easing the guilt. And not to completely let her down today, I am making her a special dinner that she requested . . . juicy, juicy steak, cheesy potatoes, and sauteed green beans.

To on to the Christmas cookies . . .

Honey Caramel Hazelnut Bars
I think these are good, but again, can't really taste anything, so I may be fooling myself. Vince's favorite nuts are hazelnuts, and he said they're good, so I'll have to take his word on it.

Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Shortbread Bars

These are good. I make them last year when my taste buds were working just fine, so I know these are worth the calories. Actually they're better than just good, they're pretty amazing.
Obviously, photography is not my forte either.

Let's see if I can get myself in the kitchen today, and get back on the cookie track.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day Two

A quick post before heading off to the first doctor's appointment of the day.

Ooey Gooey Karo Krispers

Obviously not ooey nor gooey. I set them in the fridge to get the chocolate top to set and ended up leaving them in the fridge overnight. Therefore they are more like hard and brittle Karo Krispers, practially shattered when I tried to cut into them this morning. I'll leave them on the counter to warm up a bit and see what they do. I've never made these before, so the jury is still out.

Nanimo Bars

My favorite! I'm sure these can be made any time of year, but since I'll eat the entire tray myself, I limit these to Christmas time only. And of course I have to make a double batch to be sure I get my share. Of course just before baking for the day, Vince called and said he wanted a batch to bring to his Christmas thing at work on Friday. So since I'm already making a double batch, do I just give him half? Of course not. This calls for triple batch making.
** They're actually very easy to make. Good luck Lena and Greg. ***

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Cookies 2007: Day One

I've planned to make twelve types of cookies for the twelve days of Christmas, but in only six days. Seeing that we have two different doctors appointments scheduled for tomorrow, and Thursday is Sophia's 9th birthday, it may be a stretch, but I'm going to try to keep in mind that this is suposed to be fun. It would help if the babies would actually go to sleep at nap time, but so far I've had little cooperation.

Actually, yesterday was Day One but I never got around to posting anything.
Pineapple Jam Jewels

These are yummy. Tender and buttery. I have made them before and will definetly make again.

Holiday Wreath Jumbles

I think these are more cute than yummy. Just a plain sugar type cookie with colored powdered frosting decoration. I think the kids will think they're neat, but I'll save my calories for something else.

Today's (Day Two) cookies are still setting up, so I'll have to post those tomorrow.

In house news . . . Vince has decided that my big dream house isn't on a big enough lot, and I've decided that four bedrooms and only one living area isn't a big enough house regardless of the one acre of yard. So we're in the process of working with a couple of custom home builders to see if we can afford to build what we want. We shall see.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Tale of Two, No Wait, Three Houses

Our first trip out with our real estate agent for some serious house hunting left me disappointed at our options. So the next Saturday, we tried again. And at the end of the day, felt we had a couple of very viable options. This is the problem. I want a house. A nice house. A nice big house, so that when I'm stuck at home with the kids all day, there is enough room for us to get away from each other with out driving each other crazy. Vince wants land. Lots of land. Land lots of land with the starry sky's above. Don't fence him in. Remember Green Acres? Yep, that's us. Our task was not an easy one.

So last Saturday, house #1, we looked at a house that Vince was most interested in. Luckily it reeked of dog urine, and was so small even Vince couldn't deny it. It was located on a street called Hardback Court. All I had to do was call it Brokeback Court, and he said he couldn't live there now. He's just too easy sometimes.

On to house #2. Another smaller house on an acre of land, but new and with a swimming pool, so I was ready to give it a look. Nope, too small, no trees, and a questionable area.

On to house #3. Basically I forced Vince into looking at this house. He had no interest, but we were in the area, it was six minutes away from house #2, so how could he say no? Still a smaller house than I wanted, listed at 2,636 sq. ft., but new and on 1 1/2 acres at the end of a cul-de-sac, and heavily wooded. It was beautiful. Not laid out like I'd like, smaller than I wanted, but very high end. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms, but only one living area and one dining area. Great neighborhood, which will be gated, and all lots are a minimum of an acre. The kids had such a good time running around that property, they were elated. Sophia was running around, her cheeks were all pink and rosy. It was a happy sight. And there were deer tracks. Lot's of them, all over the backyard. And the fact that it was like being on the edge of a forest won Vince over. Oh, that and the enormous 23x30 garage. So the house is smaller than I want, but there is room to add on if we feel the need and the neighborhood can't be beat. That's the Antler Ridge house. You can see that house here.

Then on to house #4. Basically the house of my dreams. 4100 sq. ft. Five bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a living room, a family room, a study, a dining room, a game room, and a media room. There is even an exercise room off the master bath. And the master closet was bigger than some bedrooms I've seen. I'm telling you, the only thing I could find wrong with this house was the fact that it didn't have double ovens. Then there was the yard. The yard was fine. Not huge, but definitely better than what we have now. There is room for the kids to play. No, it's no acre and a half, and it's not wooded, but o-kay. It's only a 9,000 sq. ft. lot, but look at the house! And we couldn't reach out the window and touch our neighbors house, so while the houses were closer than we would like, they weren't ridiculously close. That's the Glenwood house. You can see that house here.

Ah, decisions, decisions. So getting back into the car, Vince asks me "O-kay, if you had to make an offer on a house right now, which one would it be?" I hate it when he does that to me. I'm not a snap decision maker. I don't like being put on the spot. So I thought a couple of minutes, the inner turmoil building. Do I choose what I want? Do I choose what my husband wants? Do I choose what I think would be best for my kids? My kids of course. But what would be better for my kids? A bigger house? Do my kids care what size house they live in? And how did I get so high and mighty that I think I need a 4,100 sq. ft. house? Why can't I get the Glenwood house in the Antler Ridge area? Am I asking too much? Apparently. Do my kids want more room to run and play? Is that what is more important to my children? Running and playing seem pretty important to kids. Do they even know what they want, and would they verbalize it if they could? Ugh! So I said I'd make a low ball offer on the Antler Ridge house and if it was meant to be , it was meant to be. If not, I thought the Glenwood house would be a great second choice. Vince agreed. We had a decision.

So while we're getting our pre-qual stuff worked out, and our agent is doing a little homework on the area for us, I'm thinking more and more about the Antler Ridge house. It really is the kind of neighborhood I wanted, but the house just seems so small. 2,636 sq. ft. The house we're currently in is supposed to be about 2,450 sq. ft. and I swear it has more room. We have four bedrooms, two and a half bedrooms. A family room, a game room, and a room at the front of the house that is supposed to be a formal dining but we use it as our homeschooling room. I just couldn't figure out where all that extra square footage was supposed to be. So our agent e-mailed the listing agent about the square footage, and he got kind of snippy.

My inner turmoil still going on. I wanted to go look at the Antler Ridge house and the property again, so Sunday after Mass we made another trek out there. It's no short trip, it's currently 1 1/2 hours from where we live now, but only 30 minutes from where Vince works. So his commute will improve greatly.

The property was still great, but the house was still small. We're talking back and forth on how we could extend this wall, or build out over the garage, etc, etc. So as we're leaving we decide to drive around the neighborhood, because there are still a lot of lots of land for sale. Just before it got dark, we came across a house that was still being built. Pretty much done, but not quite. Vince asked if I wanted to see it inside, but I thought it must be locked, how could we get in it. Well there wasn't even a lock on the front door yet. So we went in, and it was a lot like the Antler Ridge house, but a little bigger. 2,814 sq. ft. Laid out a little better. And it had a formal dining, and a study, but still only one living area. It's only on a one acre lot, but still, one acre. And I think the house won't feel so cramped. That's the Deer Chase house. No link for this house, it's not even on the market yet. So now we have a meeting with the builders on Sunday to see if we could afford to build what I want on a lot that Vince wants. Or should we just go with what is already built, and we'll make it work for us.

So wish us luck, keep us in your prayers, do whatever it is you do to send someone good vibes. I just want to make the right decision, whatever that decision may be.

But I do have to say, with all the inner turmoil and complaining I'm doing, I'm feeling like I'm not liking myself very much right now. Nothing has been stolen, Vince is employed and just got a raise, and everyone is healthy. We're just trying to buy a house. Which is what we've been waiting to do for a year now. I need to focus on being grateful, not conflicted. So shut up already!