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November 2007
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January 2008

Back in Snowy Utah

Let's just skip right over the part where I talk about the drawn out, miserable, highly turbulent and generally airsick inducing to the point of scrambling for the special bag in your seat pocket descent into Salt Lake yesterday and go to the fun stuff.

I really enjoyed my trip home for the holidays.  It was so nice to be able to spend so much time at home this year (as opposed to last year where I was home for a frantic 3 days that included supervising the loading of a moving truck and miserable flight connections and cancellations through Denver).  Mom and dad took the whole week off and Nicole was just back from Scotland so I got to spend time with everyone.  I got to meet Brian (who flew out after Christmas) which was great - we're excited to have him joining the family :)  I also got to spend time working on genealogy with my grandpa - he's excited to have someone else take an interest, and I'm excited at the giant stack of photos, papers and CDs that I got to bring back with me.

Christmas was wonderful.  I just spent time enjoying and hardly took any pictures, actually.  I think that's a first!  Here's one from Christmas morning:


Mostly we just hung out, watched movies and shopped.  Oh, and ate.  We ate a lot.  That was so good but oh so bad.  I'll be paying for that for a while, but that's what New Year's resolutions are for, right? 

Speaking of food and shopping, is it any surprise that I was at Wegmans twice?


Wegmans, I miss you.  I took lots of pictures of the inside and showed them to co-workers this morning.  Despite hearing me rave about it several times in the last year, they didn't truly understand the glory that is Wegmans until I showed them pictures.  Once seeing pictures, however, mouths were on the floor in total shock and envy.  I think we'll start a petition to bring Wegmans away from the East Coast.  Maybe it will happen sometime in the next 50 years :-P

Something else that I totally miss and really enjoyed?  Good ethnic food of the non-Mexican variety.  Dad and I went to Lebanese Taverna on Saturday and I just sat in silence savoring every single bite.  I would have licked the plate if I could have gotten away with it.  I had Fatteh bel Djaje (Fatteh with chicken) and it was fabulous; possibly the best food I've had in a very long time.  Fried pieces of flat bread, hummus, perfectly cooked chicken smothered in yogurt sauce and topped with mint leaves, pomegranate seeds, radishes, onion and garlic with pine nuts.  To die for (although I have to admit, Dad ate the radishes and onions).  To satisfy future cravings, I think I'm going to have to learn to cook this stuff... I just need to see if I can find all of the ingredients here, lol.


Saturday I also went downtown with Nicole and Brian to take their engagement photos.  Despite my protests that I'm not a photographer and don't even have a fancy enough camera to pretend to be one, they wanted me to do it, so I did.  Some of them are actually pretty good!  They picked a few that I'm going to edit in Photoshop... here's one of them:


All in all, it was wonderful.  Fun and relaxing.  And while I've been writing this, it even stopped snowing!  Yay!

And, even though whoever did it doesn't read here, THANK YOU!!! to the wonderful person (most likely my home teacher) who did an awesome job shoveling my driveway last night or this morning... to the point of completely clearing the piles left by the snow plows.  I was so sick after my flight yesterday that I couldn't get to it and it was a wonderful surprise this morning.

So with that... happy new year!  Here's to a great 2008 :)

Bah Humbug.

Why?  I don't know.  Maybe it's the feeling of panic that I'm now dealing with after I whiled away the evening with a book while listening to my laundry flopping around in the dryer and feeling the ambiance of my Christmas tree instead of finishing projects or wrapping presents to get ready to catch a plane tomorrow.  Maybe it was the mussuman curry from our team outing for lunch today (which was pretty good, actually).  Maybe it's the fact that I'm going to have to shovel 6" of snow off my driveway in the morning in order to go to work for 3 hours before coming back to catch said plane.  Maybe it's because the book is finished, the laundry is done, and I have no more excuses to put off packing only now it's 10pm and I'm really kind of tired.  I just don't know.  But, one thing I have decided... I really don't like the Christmas blog banner and green sidebars.  It's just not working for me.  I'll let it ride in the spirit of the season, though.

I have now put on some Christmas music and will proceed to wrap presents in hopes of gaining some cheer.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!  (See, that's cheery, right?)

The finish line is in sight.

Whew.  My whirlwind baking is done.  Little gift boxes made and filled, tupperware stuffed with goodies and waiting to go to work with me today.  It might be a little silly, but I'm excited to share with everyone at work and not just because I need validation for my cooking skills.  I mean, if anyone can spot a good tasting cookie, it's me.  I think I'm mainly just exicted to give out thank-yous to all the people at work who have helped me get going in my new position and worked on my projects this year.  I'm really lucky to have a lot of great co-workers; it makes all the difference.

Melody brought her kids over tonight while Vic was studying for finals, and she and Angelina (and even Logan) gave the seal of approval to the cookies and the little treat boxes I rigged up (Mel - I emailed you the recipes).  I got to help teach Angelina how to count money while twisting candy cane cookies and hot glueing little birds.  It was kind of bad of us, but when I yanked the little stick out of the little bird pick I got (Michael's - $.25.  Steal), Angelina thought I was killing the bird and we let her think that.  lol.  I'd make a terrible parent.  Oh well.  Here's what my final packages looked like :)


These were just for Mel's family and the co-workers on my little team.  Everyone else gets to graze from tupperware at my desk.  Somehow I don't think they'll mind.  Oh, and a quick shout-out to Sharon for the awesome idea to use the Prima boxes as well as the recipe for the Oreo Truffles (from the Prima Blog).

Also, I finally finished all of the gift tags for my presents.  It was so much fun to do some hand-made tags this year.  It's been a while since I've gotten this into it and it feels great.  I'm just hoping the inspiration carries into the new year!



Whew.  All that's left is to finish one last crafty project, wrap a few last presents, do laundry and pack and I'll be set!  I love Christmas time!

Wegman's, I have beaten thee.

So, I haven't posted about Wegman's in a long time.  Mostly because the closest one is now about 2,000 miles away instead of across the street from my office.  This is actually a benefit in many ways.  However, there's one thing I especially miss (out of the many that I just generally miss).  They have a phenomenal cookie counter, and my favorite of all of them were their Russian Tea Cakes (Mexican Wedding Cakes, what have you).  Now, out here, I have yet to find a bakery that sells these little gems, so if I get to craving them so bad I'm willing to do something about it besides swear at whatever grocery store I happen to be in, I have to make them myself.

Pc180003_2I have, if I say so myself, perfected the recipe.  Mine are now, (dare I say it?) better than Wegman's.  The real key at this point is to NOT make them, because then I eat them.  They're divine.  They're light, almost fluffy, and they melt in your mouth. 

However, this being Christmas and all, I'm doing a lot of baking for work gifts and I decided to share the joy.  So tonight, to be added to the two kinds of truffles from the weekend, I made the mint chip version of my ever famous White Chocolate Almond cookies, another batch of Symphony fudge that actually came out (because it turns out that soft ball is actually listed with the wrong temperature on my thermometer... problem solved), I made the dough for my candy cane cookies (which will bake tomorrow after chilling) and, of course, the tea cakes.


Are you hungry yet?

Note to self... CAN have too much of a good thing.

I went to Tucano's (Brazilian BBQ) for lunch with my development team today.  A little holiday / team building celebration time.  It was delicious, but they come by and shave off meat in small servings and you lose track of how much you had.  The good thing is, I shouldn't need to eat again until Wednesday.

Crazy/Busy/Fun weekend.

First off, I managed to get my Christmas shopping finished and made a head start on my baking for all my work treats.  I made gingersnap truffles Friday night, which started with my first ever batch of ganache.  Mmm... Good thing I'm not a real chocolate freak, or I would have gotten myself in trouble making those.

Saturday, I was up bright and early to be at the Salt Lake temple by 9am for my cousin's wedding.  Parking was a mess, which I found out probably had a lot to do with the 72 sealings they were doing that day.  But it was great to go into the waiting room and see aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandma for the first time in a while.  The sealing was lovely, and afterwards we all headed up to Red Butte Gardens near the U.  The luncheon was beautiful, flowers gorgeous, food delicious.  My parents had been in Rexburg for Rick's graduation Friday night (congratulations Ricky!) and drove down in time for the luncheon.  It was fun to just sit and get caught up on all the doings in the family.  A few pictures from the luncheon (which was in the orangerie... such a great venue).


My grandma and my cousin Taylor...


Ryan and Jill cutting their cake (believe it or not, that is NOT fondant.  Great cake, but the Maggie Moo's ice cream stole the show ;)


The rest of the pictures (and I actually, shock, didn't take that many!) are here.

After the luncheon, I drove with my parents to check into their hotel, then we just relaxed.  After dinner, mom and I went back to SLC to meet everyone in grandma's hotel room where we all just chatted for a few hours.  I'm not much of one for just sitting around talking for hours on end, but there's always an exception for my mom's family - the conversation is always entertaining.

Sunday morning, I met my parents bright and early and we drove up to the Conference Center for Music and the Spoken Word followed by a Christmas concert with the King Singers, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra and the Bell Ringers at Temple Square.  It was very possibly the most beautiful thing I've ever heard.  Despite the massive frustration of trying to find parking and get inside, it was worth it all as soon as we heard the music.  There was also a rendition of The Twelve Days of Christmas (which usually annoys me), complete with gorgeously costumed dancers, that was completely delightful.  O Holy Night made me cry... the arrangements and the singing and decorations and everything were just unbelievable.  I'm so glad we were able to go.  Here's the one picture I managed to snap after the performance before everyone stood up and my view was gone...


After that, mom and dad and I grabbed lunch at the Olive Garden (mmm... I know what I'm having for dinner tonight.  Leftovers!) and then we hung out at my place until they had to grab their plane.  Of course, shortly after that, Rick and Erin came by for a brief visit on their way to Florida where Rick is starting an internship that will hopefully lead to an awesome job.  So I got to give them their presents and play with Ben for a little while.  He's at that age where he's running all over and wants to grab everything.  He also loves Christmas trees.  Bad combination.  lol.  He was really good at my place, though.  He would point at different things and say "tree," "ball," "fish," "bird," or "santa" in his cute little voice as he looked at different ornaments.   So adorable.  But they had to get back on the road to try and make it as far as possible, so they were off.


Finally, I was able to get a little more baking done.  I made Oreo Truffles (which are to DIE for).  I'm going to have a hard time putting these in my gift boxes.


I also worked on making fudge.


Unfortunately, my candy thermometer doesn't seem to be too accurate.  While waiting for it to indicate I had reached soft ball stage, I kind of surpassed it.  I finally decided it was more than done and added the chocolate.  So, it's a little grainy and harder than it should be.  I'm sure I'll still find takers, but next time I'm going to do the trick I saw on Take Home Chef and drop some into a cup of water instead of relying on the thermometer.

After that, I was exhausted, so I settled in front of my Christmas tree with Christmas music on the stereo, a good book and a nice cup of peppermint hot chocolate :)

More Christmas craftiness

So last night, after laying on the couch for a few hours reading, I realized that it was probably time for bed but I wasn't tired (maybe because I hadn't really DONE anything since getting home from work?  It's possible, I guess.) so I decided to get started wrapping the presents that were ready to go.  That part was fairly quick and painless, but it led to the whole gift tag part of it. 

I don't have any pre-printed gift tags... I mean, given that I have entire ROOM full of paper and stickers, I feel kind of like I have to use what I have, you know?  So since I've been following the amazing 12 Days of Christmas tags that Tim Holtz is doing on his blog I was feeling inspired.  Granted, I wasn't about to do anything like what he's been doing mainly because I don't have the sprays and tools he's using (surprise, there's something I don't own!).  But I did pull out a few Christmas stamps, ink, colored pencils and glitter, etc... and went to work.  Here are the two I did last night before I finally called it quits and went to bed.



The manilla tags on top move to the side to see the "to" and "from".  The glittered chipboard letters are for the first initial of the person getting it. 

I can't wait to make more of these!

9 to 5

No, I'm not talking about a song/movie from Dolly Parton.  That's the score from last night's Avs game.  Insane.  I'm not thinking about the five goals they allowed, just the nine AMAZING goals they scored while they waxed the Blues.  And all of this with Joe Sakic, their captain and possibly their best player, out of the lineup. Paul Stastny, (who really needs more recognition for his sick hockey skills), was only the second star of the night with 2 goals and 3 assists.  Yes, the first star (Hejduk) had 6 points, including a hat trick.  That, my friends, is truly beautiful.  And yes, I know that probably only Steph, my dad and I actually care, but there haven't been scores like this in hockey since the Edmonton Oilers were cleaning up the league in the 80s.  Enjoy it while you can, eh?

And Christmas Eve is TWO WEEKS from TODAY!  Assuming my shopping and baking all proceed on schedule, I should be good to go by the time I get on the plane to go home.  So excited!  Off to Google the fudge recipe I've lost since last year :-P

Who has a company Christmas party up a canyon on a snowy December night?

That would be my company.  The good thing was, Kylene, a friend from work, volunteered to drive, so I didn't have to face the snowy roads from behind the wheel.  Of course, once we got going, there was really very little snow to deal with.  On the roads, at least.  But saving myself gas from the trip to Midway and back (about 15 minutes from Park City) was a nice bonus :)

We went to the Zamatt resort in Midway - I'd love to go back up there some day when there's no snow, just to look around and take pictures.  Midway was originally a Swiss settlement, and it's very cool.  The resorts are gorgeous!  Here are a few not so great pictures that I got last night on the way in...



One of the developers I work with has a rock & roll cover band - they were playing in one of the rooms.  Kylene and I went and sat for a set - partly because it was just fun, and partly to be good team players :D  After that, we went in and grabbed dinner, chatted with people at our table that we didn't know (good networking. lol) and then I went in to watch the improv comedy troupe, Quick Wits.  They were hysterical - I wish I could have spent more time in there.  We waited through the 30 minute prize raffle (should VPs be ineligible to win major prizes? 4 of them won... the CEO did too, but he let them draw again on his name).  Then, since the snow wasn't getting any better and Kylene's broken foot was done for the night, we headed back home.

All in all, I'm glad I went.  If nothing else so that I can participate in the merciless mocking that will be perpetrated on Monday on our developer (manly man mountain biker) whose raffle prize was a spa package.  lol.

Mmm... gnocchi.

This picture / recipe made me drool.  It's been a while since I made homemade gnocchi, but I'm sensing another batch coming in the near future.


On my last trip to Italy, I believe I ordered gnocchi four separate times in various restaurants.  I also had it at Olive Garden with my parents last time they were in town... first time I've seen it there! and it only barely tasted frozen.  lol.  (hmm... too snobby?  oh well! :D ).  I've had sweet potato gnocchi from a package before.  Meh.  But these... yeah.  I must try making these.

P.S. Welcome to my holly jolly holiday blog!  I wasn't going to make any changes, but I was feeling a little guilt about my lack of festive spirit while blog surfing lately.  So, up went the Christmas tree lights!

Just another layout posting...

... so if scrapbook pages aren't your thing, move along ;)

I did all of these a while ago.  As IF I've been scrapbooking lately.  lol. At least not for myself. 

So, these are two that I did from pictures that I had used on layouts for classes I taught.  I hated the layouts, HATED them.  So I pulled off the pictures and re-did them.  I like them much better now, although I'm still not thinking too hard about it (keeps my anal side from going nuts).  Love these both for the pictures of my Grandma and of my little Casper.



This is another one I did about 6 weeks ago from Africa... this is Nicole and I on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town.  It's very blue.  Again, trying not to think about it.  I do need to re-print these pictures, though.  I think I had an ink cartridge issue.


Finally, one that I did a little more recently from Ben's first birthday party.


So that's it... now it's back to keeping an eye on the weather.  We're all biting our nails wondering how bad it's going to be tomorrow since we have our company Christmas party up Provo Canyon at a really cool resort.  I want to go (good food, good prizes), but if you know me, you know how I am about the snow.  I think I'll be carpooling with a friend who's also going alone.  Us singles have to stick together!