Cookies and Orange for a Pie

Today I spent about 5 hours making three different kinds of cookies. I made raspberry thumb print cookies, chocolate chip and pecan cream cheese cookies and chewy chocolate cookies. Two of the three recipes came from Cooks Illustrated magazine and they are awesome! Anything that I've made from Cooks Illustrated has come out great. I highly recommend it to anyone who is not familiar this magazine.

This evening we have our annual block Christmas party. Everyone brings an ornament and a plate of cookies. We exchange the ornaments and then everyone takes some of the other cookies home. It is a nice, relaxed get together and this year my cookies are actually going to be good! I also made cookies to bring back home to MI for my relative Christmas party. I need to stop typing the word cookies.

Yesterday Dave & I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple. I bought dinner from Whole Foods, we gave the dogs bully sticks and then we exchanged gifts. My awesome husband got me the Sex & the City ultimate series DVD collection! I also got a Red Wings decal to put on the back of my car, some DVDs, an ornament, and Trivial Pursuit. The inaugural game was won by yours truly! Dave got some t-shirts, books, DVDs, and a beautiful wedding picture to put on his desk. I like that we always know what the other person wants but forgot to put on their list.

Well, I have to go get ready for the party. I hope everyone has safe travels and a wonderful Christmas!!


I made candy!

Of course it isn't to eat. I bought a candy thermometer over 3 years ago with aspirations of broadening my culinary horizons. I opened it yesterday to make fake glass for my science class today. Sad. However, the fake glass turned out great and I am debating which one of my 5 boys I get to break it over their head. That will be tough decision!

I may just try my hand at making something yummy and edible next time!

(this picture was taken after I had only been awake 40 minutes hence the slightly dazed look)


My two dogs

When we first got Dewey back in February there were some very intense moments between the two dogs. I would cry sometimes because I was afraid they would never get along. Now, over 10 months later, we have two dogs that still wrestle but do so without malice. They play together at doggie daycare, try to outsmart each other for their treats and sometimes they cuddle. Usually I am unable to get the camera in time, but not so today. Here are some adorable doggie cuddling moments!


Christmas is around the corner...

It is Friday (now it is Saturday). I have never been so thankful to discover that fact half way through the day. It hasn't been a particularly rough day. However, after standing in line at the post office for over an hour and overhearing a person say something about it being Friday night I turned from weary to happy very quickly. On top of that, I only have one work week until I get a two+ week vacation!

Can I say how much I love Christmastime? I love it! I am not a particularly religious person although I do believe in God and I think religion is a wonderful thing. What I love about the holidays are the people I encounter and the people I love that I get to spend bonus time with. People always talk about crazy holiday shoppers, but in my experience shopping during the holidays is like an unspoken camaraderie. We all know that lines are going to be longer and aisles more crowded. Haven't you ever struck up a 5 person conversation in a checkout line during the holidays? If not, I recommend that you try it. People can surprise you!

Another thing I love about Christmas is well look at my list! Lights on the house, in the house, on a tree, pine scented candles, cookie baking, Christmas card holders, wreaths, wearing green & red, vacation, the dinner table spread, spending time with friends and family, the Sprague party and gift exchange, Sharon's vegetarian minded Christmas food, Sharon's baking, Sharon (!!), the 3 hour long phone call to Grandma, shopping for gifts, receiving gifts, Christmas songs (especially Carol of the Bells) and listening to my kindergarten class sing Must Be Santa. I suppose I could continue this list for another 3 paragraphs, but Dave is patiently waiting for me to finish so we can head up to Boulder for the day.

In less than a week Dave & I will be back in Michigan so you better get ready! See you soon!


What is wrong with people?

In the last 2 days I have seen at least 5 stories that were big enough to make it on the top U.S. stories on cnn.com. All of these stories had one thing in common-animal abuse. What is wrong with people? Why in this country, more so than any other, are animals needlessly abused? There are stories about an owner leaving her dog outside in below freezing temps that he actually froze to the cement. A dog being stabbed with a 10" knife. 110 animals being removed from farms in VT due to neglect. It goes on and on.

I will admit, animal cruelty is not the reason I became a vegetarian over 10 years ago, but it sure is a big factor as to why I still am. Animal abuse happens all over the world, but this country has come of the worst offenses of legal and illegal animal abuse. Our standards for animals fall far below that of much of the rest of the developed world. They are part of our throw away society and it is sickening. People getting a puppy b/c it is cute and then when they don't spend the time or money to train it, they get rid of it b/c of the "behavioural" issues. Animal shelters are overflowing because people are to stupid to get their animals spayed or neutered. Living conditions for animals waiting to die for your dinner are appalling and their deaths are far less humane.

I don't mean to stand on a soap box, but I just get so frustrated with the way so many animals are forced to live and die. There are a lot of people out there who are doing good by these animals. There are farms that go above and beyond what the law mandates, people who volunteer their time and money to rescue organizations and people who live their lives in ethical ways to promote animal well being.

Then there are people that suck...


The week in review

Christmastime is among us and I cannot believe how not on the ball I am. Usually I have already sent out my Christmas cards and mailed my packages by this time. Did you know that we received 4 Christmas cards on Friday? That got me upstairs on my computer writing my annual Christmas letter. Now most of my cards just need stamps and are ready to go. I won a package of holiday cards from our wonderful wedding photographers Smith Gallery Photography so the rest will be sent out when those arrive.

I put up our tree on Thursday, but sadly we only had about 6 or 7 ornaments. Yesterday Dave & I went to Target and Hobby Lobby and bought about 12 more. Now the tree looks much better according to Dave, but I think it is only because all the presents under the tree are for him so far. The outdoor lights also got put up yesterday by Dave. Since he did most of the prep work last year, it only took him about 30 minutes. We didn't put any lights on the 2nd floor b/c we don't have a ladder yet.

After our Christmas themed day, we took the dogs for a walk. They are slowly getting used to their gentle leader harnesses and walking them has progressively become much easier. At first they would constantly try to get the harnesses off by rolling around on the grass and rubbing their snouts against our legs. Now they only try to remove them intermittently. If you ever get a dog that pulls on his/her leash so much that you are afraid they are hurting themselves I would strongly recommend the Gentle Leader. We tried a few harnesses before this one, but this is the only one that really discourages pulling and doesn't hurt your dog.

Not a very eventful week here at the homestead. Oh well! All you Michigan friends and family - I will be seeing you in 2 weeks! Happy Sunday!


San Francisco and 'Turkey' Day

The joys of working in the school system. My a.m. job has a 2 hour delay today and my p.m. job is closed. It started snowing as we were driving home from the airport late Saturday night/Sunday morning. It took us 2 hours to get home when it normally only takes 1 and the snow kept coming all day Sunday. All this means is that I have time to blog this morning!

We spent Thanksgiving week in San Francisco with Dave's parents, my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and their newly born twins. It was nice to relax, get to know my new relatives better and hang out with the little ones. I always forget how tiny newborns are. It has been over 6 years since Nick & Sabrina were that small! Hopefully in the next year or two Dave and I will have a little once, but until then we are super happy to be Aunt and Uncle to such great kids!

Stephen and Marissa live a nice part of the city, granted I do not know much about San Francisco but I liked their neighborhood and felt completely safe walking around. One day, Dave and I walked to the ocean from their house and it was only about a 20 minute walk. The waves were spectacular and the view of the bridge and cliffs with monstrously large houses on them was amazing! While in the city we also took a family trip downtown on the cable cars. We walked around, had sundaes at the Ghirardelli store, and I went into Tiffany's for the first time! I pointed out to Dave what I wanted for Christmas...maybe next year or in 2025!

Thanksgiving day was relaxed and very yummy! I made a mushroom, goat cheese, red pepper bread pudding that was pretty good. We also had stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, brussel sprouts with nuts, turkey (for those who eat it), homemade apple pie, and pumpkin dessert with dulce de leche. It was all very delicious and I was grateful for not having to cook everything myself! One day I will be the mother or mother-in-law in charge of providing that meal for my family, but until then I will enjoy being the daughter and daughter-in-law!

(Dave and Peter, his soon-to-be godson)

(In middle of THE dinner)

(Post-sundaes at Ghirardelli)

(Guess where I am)