Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's MeMe

Following suit of Nettiemac and Kate/Susan, here is my MeMe for the New Year:

Best Album: I have to agree with Nettie and go with the Robert Plant/Allison Krauss album, Raising Sand. I kind of raised my eyebrows at first, but was pleasantly surprised by the duo.

Best Non-Fiction: Anything non-fiction that I have read this year has probably either had something to do with cakes or baking, or gardening. Can't say which is best. :-)

Best TV Series: I've been into Kyle XY, and am usually glued to the TV for most of the CSI shows.

Best Fiction: Kate/Susan really turned me onto Janet Evanovich, I totally blew through the Stephanie Plum series and am waiting with bated breath for the next two books coming out. I still have a few of her other books to read.

Best Kids’ Music: I am a 38 year-old woman with no children, yet my TV is usually tuned to The Disney Channel more often than not. And my favorite show to watch is Hannah Montana. Yeah, it doesn't hurt that Billy Ray Cyrus also stars in it opposite his daughter, Miley. In spite of the recent scandal that Miley has found herself in - which I think is totally ridiculous and was blown way out of proportion (I mean, really, look at any teenage girl's MySpace page and you see that same stupid stuff, girls just goofing off) - I believe she's got a great future provided she does not follow the lead of several of her predecessors. Disney has been a wonderful startup vehicle for many a talented young person, how they handle the fame and fortune as the result is pretty much up to the child star/parents. Miley, I hope, has got her father's (and mother's) support and guidance in this and I am positive that he will keep her on level ground.

Best Movie: Talmadge disagrees but Tiger, Bolivar, and I all liked the movie August Rush. Yes, it's completely fantastical and the plot is a bit trite and sad, but all in all it's just a movie about a little boy whose biggest desire is to be reunited with his mother and father after living in an orphanage all of his life, and the best way he knows how to do it is through music.

Best Sign of the Apocalypse: Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears will suddenly become the models of perfect motherhood and Mama Lynn will finally get to publish her book on parenting.

Best Come Back of the Year: Britney Spears......but of course. (gag)

Best Old TV show you are just getting into: I get on a M*A*S*H* kick every now and again. But I love watching the old episodes of The Waltons and Little House On The Prairie when I am at home on a weekday.

Best grocery store: Kroger!

Best (Summer) Vacation: I have to say that this past summer was the best vacation I have had in a long time. OK, so technically it wasn't a VACATION, because I'd had surgery - but how can I complain about getting to stay out of work an entire month and having people (thanks Tal and Mom!) waiting on me hand and foot and not letting me lift a finger!

(Skipping a couple of categories here, just didn't seem to have any answers thus far.....)

Saddest moment of the year: The year was pretty great up until Dec. 1, when my uncle passed away. He is the first of my dad's siblings to leave us, and probably the uncle I was closest to, because I had shared an apartment with his youngest son for a few years while he was in college and I was getting a jump start on my life. That, among other things, kind of set the mood for the remainder of the holiday season. I for one am glad that it is over for the most part and we can start the new year on a positive note.

Happiest Moment of the Year: When we got through the End of Fiscal Year activities at work and most everything balanced up, considering how screwed up things were when I first started working there and had not much of an idea how to do many of the things. But now everything is running smooth as silk (knock on wood).

Friday, December 21, 2007

Message from Sandy Claws......

......Puddy asked me to post this for her, since she does not have her own blog:

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!
Happy New Year!!!!!

Love and Huggies,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads......

I wasn't sure if I wanted to bake any cookies for Christmas this year. In the past I have gone nuts baking this and that but for some reason I just couldn't get into it this year. Until now.......

I was actually intending to just make some peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses plunked on top of them (peanut butter blossoms is what my friend Susan calls them so I'll go with that, love the name!) and some sugar cookies. Tal bought a package of the refrigerated sugar cookie dough so I'll bake those on up.

I've put it off because I've had several other things I've been trying to get done. Tiger is coming home with us after Christmas as well as my oldest nephew, Boogie, who is 11. Just trying to get the house presentable for them. I straightened up the living room last night and have been working trying to get the kitchen clean, which will probably not last once I start baking! I've also been wanting to get out in the garage and straighten up out there because we've got some things to move out there and I need to make room for them. That will have to wait until after Christmas - maybe I can enlist Tal, Tiger, and Boogie's help for this! (hint-hint) We've got company coming mid-January and I want the house in tip-top shape for their visit! :-) It's going to be here sooner than we think - right, Susan and Nettie?!?!?!

But for now, we've got our staff Christmas thingy coming up on Friday. Technically, it's not a party - just all of us bringing in goodies to munch on all day. For that, I decided to make a big chocolate chip cookie and decorate it with buttercream, and also a batch of red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese filling and frosting using the cupcake kit (shameless Wilton plug) I got in July at our Wilton meeting.

Then I came across a recipe for Holiday Wreaths, basically a spritz cookie, and thought they looked cute and easy enough. And I also remembered I have a quart of sesame seeds in the cupboard that I got last year. I need to use those, so I am going to make up a batch of benne seed cookies. I like Paula's recipe, I made it last year and the year before and they turned out really good. Can't disappoint my cousin, Cokie Jo - she loves them and I keep telling her I'm going to send her the recipe but never get around to it! OK....I just got around to it. It should be in her hot little hands as we speak.

So, to recap the cookie list:

sugar cookies for Tal
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Giant Chocolate Chip Christmas Cookie (we'll call it the GC4)
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting
Holiday Wreaths
Benne Seed Cookies

OK....I confess.....for the GC4, I *did* buy some canned chocolate frosting. Canned frosting is usually a taboo item in my house, I make my own which tastes better than the canned stuff - BUT the chocolate usually tastes better because I just can't seem to get the chocolate frosting chocolate enough for my tastes. Until I can perfect the chocolate frosting recipe, I'll humbly turn to Betty, Duncan, or the Dough Boy for help!

I forgot to mention that I baked and decorated a baby shower this past Sunday. Technically, it's not holiday baking but it's still baking nonetheless!

Yum, all this talk about cookies is making me hungry. YAY, it's lunchtime! I'm going to go eat my leftover salad from Zaxby's and think more about my baking blitz I plan to do tonight!

Until later,

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas MeMe.......brace yourself........

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
On the fence about this one. On one hand, wrapping paper certainly does help the mystique of a gift. It's better if you are truly wanting to surprise someone and you KNOW they will try to peek. Gift bags, on the other hand, can be cute and really dress up the gift. Best of all they can be recycled for other uses or re-used for other gifts.

2. Real tree or artificial?
We had an artificial tree for as long as I can remember. I remember what a PITA it was to put together every year. It was one of those that you had to match the color on the end of the branch to its corresponding hole on the "tree trunk". But it had a smell to it that is still ingrained in my mind.....not a bad smell, the smell of things that have been boxed and stored away for a while.

There was this one year when we decided we wanted a real tree. We went down to a Christmas tree farm not far from our house and cut our own, I took our video camera with us and captured the choosing and cutting of the tree. I also have video of Daddy standing in the back of his truck, holding up the tree and saying, "What we have here is a 12-foot tree, and an 8-foot ceiling." Yeah, we ended up hacking about 4 feet off the bottom to make it fit. That was the last and only year we had a real tree! It's a wonder we didn't end up burning the house down with that thing in our living room.

3. When do you put up the tree?
We used to put it up a week or two after Thanksgiving. I always loved to crack out the "A Very Merry Christmas" LP's, stack them on the turntable (yes, stack, Talmadge - we had one of those turntables with the stacker/changer that makes you cringe.) And be-bop decorating the tree.

These days, if I put up a tree it's a miracle. If I'm in the mood to, I'll ask Tal to drag the boxes out of the attic for me. I'm not really in the mood this year.

4. When do you take the tree down?
We always tried to get the tree down before New Years' Day, because we always felt it would be bad luck.

If I put a tree up nowadays, it comes down before Dec. 30th.

5. Do you like eggnog?
I love it! I like store-bought best, but I have to thin it some with regular milk because it's a bit thick for my taste directly from the carton.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
It's a toss-up between the really cool Barbie kitchen and town house that I got one year, and the skateboard I got another year. My mom was always good at refurbishing things from thrift stores or just so happened to find in a pile near someone's trash. She came across a perfectly good skateboard in the neighbor's yard one day and asked if she could have it. She then took it home, spray-painted it a bright yellow and put purple non-skid bathtub flowers all over it, and put new wheels on it. The money she saved on buying a skateboard at the store, she used to get me a helmet and elbow & knee pads. I loved it!

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Not currently. My parents have one that we made in Sunday school when I was little. It was a small, simple creche made from some scrap paneling that our SS teacher's husband cut out for us. We nailed the pieces together, and then the teacher gave us each a little set of white ceramic figurines in the shape of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus in a manger. I would set that up on the window ledge every year.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
Our parents......they pretty much get whatever they need during the year and what they truly want is beyond our reach financially. Gift cards work best in this case.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
All the kids - gift cards work best for them, too. Ask a kid what he/she wants for Christmas, they usually give you an answer that leaves your head spinning..."A super megatron power-changing spectra-bot battling.....what??" "What's in a Princess Brittney make-up, hairstyle, and super-model wannabe kit anyway?"

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
When I was a 13 year-old, my great-aunt Doris was apparently under the delusion that I was a perpetual 8 year-old and gave me this hot-pink plastic chain-link necklace with these huge plastic charms. I think I still have it..... IN A BOX SOMEWHERE.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Mail. Ours will be going out first of this week. (Sorry, Tal.....stole your answer on this one.)

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
The classics - "It's a Wonderful Life" and "A Christmas Carol" in black and white only. Don't give me any of that colorized crap, Mr. Ted Fonda. Oh, and "A Christmas Story". I do like to watch it, but like Tal I cannot deal with the marathons of it. Once, maybe twice a season does it for me.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I try to start getting ideas early, but lately we've just mostly opted for gift cards. They travel easier.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Yes, I have a time or two. But I try to avoid it if I can. Except for that year I got a penis pinata as a white elephant gift. (Was a re-gift from our boss's bridal/bachelorette party earlier in the year.) I couldn't wait to get rid of that thing the next year! That's the last time I get greedy and choose the biggest gift in the stack.........

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Anything not nailed down........Christmas time is usually my "eat, drink, and be merry - for tomorrow we diet" time. Unfortunately, with me, it seems tomorrow never comes.

Seriously, things to eat at Christmas time usually meant baking Christmas cookies, and on Christmas Eve we would have an "open house" of sort. Mama would make Chex Mix, and we'd have cold cuts and cheese on crackers. She would always get some of those flavored cheese spreads from Swiss Colony. Oh, and some of that sweet hot mustard. And the Christmas hard candy mix. Sometimes we'd have a small gingerbread house from there, too. Years later, the Swiss Colony store in the mall closed down and GNC opened in there. I'm thinking somebody was trying to give me a hint......

16. Lights white or colored on the tree?
Colored, that's what we always had on my childhood tree. Yes, we lived in a trailer for a short while, what can I say? My sister and I used to lie beneath the tree and look up through the branches, and blur our eyes so we could see nothing but the greenery, lights, and the occasional twinkle of the tinsel.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"O Holy Night", hands down. And to Tal's great dismay - "Sleigh Ride", only because my sister and I have a whole routine to accompany it, ending with us falling on the floor after the sleigh gets upset. Big fun.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?
Travel, rotating between Tal's parents and mine every other year. We have to travel across the state to get to both.

19. Can you name all of Santa's' reindeer?
Yes, it's one of the many useless facts that reside in my brain.

20. Angel on the treetop or a star?
Neither, actually. My childhood tree had a beautiful blown-glass spire that fit on the top of the tree. Then we had a multi-colored lit wreath with a Santa face inside of it.

When I get the notion to put up a tree as an adult, mine has a small angel holding a "candle".

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning. We would get to open ONE present on Christmas Eve, and that was usually new pajamas to wear.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
That the sentiment doesn't last the entire year. The world would be a whole lot better if people could act all year long the way they do around Christmas time.

And, I hope I don't offend when I say this, but we should be thankful that the worst issues we face this season is being annoyed that AC stations started playing Christmas songs in July and have about 16 different versions of "Jingle Bell Rock" OR that people are knocking themselves out to be "PC" and get their panties in a wad if someone wishes them a "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays".

We could be homeless, and thankful for the two really good meals we get each year and the old blanket that someone discarded because they got a new comforter for their bed. We could be sitting in front of the Christmas tree wondering how we are going to get through the season without a loved one who just passed away. Instead of wishing for a necklace from Kay Jeweler or that nifty leaf blower from Home Depot, we could be wishing for a visit from the Orkin man or some pest control supplies to get rid of the unwanted houseguests (non-human) that have taken up residence in your home and you can't afford what is needed to get rid of them because you are having to financially support some human houseguests.

To quote a very wise man...."Perspective, man. Perspective." Am I making any sense here?

23. What do you love most about Christmas?
Eggnog.....with lots of rum. It's the only way to make it out alive.