Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The one about Christmas Music

I have A LOT of Christmas music. I piled a bunch of my albums into one itunes playist a few days ago (so I can listen to them on shuffle all season) and I was almost embarrassed how many I have. (Over 400 songs! Yikes) What can I say? I LOVE CHRISTMAS MUSIC!

So anway, a friend asked me which Christmas CD's are the very best the other day? After quite a bit of thought, here are the artists who (in my very humble opinion) have the Top 10 best Christmas Albums. They are exceptional. If you don't have them, get 'em. Ask Santa for them. You'll be listening to them in July . . .just like me. :)

#1. Celine Dion #2. Christina Aguilara #3. Michael Bolton #4. SheDaisy #5. Mariah Carey #6. Brian McKnight #7. Sarah McLachlan #8. Josh Groban #9. Elliot Yamin #10. Whitney Houston

I don't have Michael Buble's. I bet that one's good too. Oh! And of course, Alvin & the Chipmunks have got to be in there somewhere. BOTH of their Christmas CD's. Classics.

So this post is rather random. Haha. And if you'd like a specail treat, check out "Porky Pig's Blue Christmas." You'll find it on my playlist, just scroll........down...

. . . . . down . . . .
. . . . . .down there.
Third to last song. It's Halle and Drew's favorite.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The one with 3 Cookie-Making Secrets

We had fun last week celebrating the CHRISTMAS season. Kids make this time of year great, don't they? Some of the things I want to remember when I look back on this year are:

1) The funny things Drewbie says. Like last night, as he was watching the cartoon version of the Nativity..(if you've never watched it, there's a part where the soldiers are killing the boy babies)...and so when the soldier sticks his sword in a cradle, Drew gasps and says "I HATE THAT GUY!!!!" with the kind of intensity only he has. And then later, when they call Jesus the "King of the Jews", he says..."Hmm.. Yes, I would like some juice", and heads down to the fridge.

2) The look on Halle's face when the Gingerbread Men ran away! I just hope there are a lot more years of the magic. . . I will miss it when she's all grown up- it hurts to even think of that day.

3) Decorating our new home for Christmas. So what if it took five days to get the tree up? The extra "helping hands" may have slowed things down, but we did it!

4) Getting all dressed up and going on a rare date with my hot hunny in the middle of the week! I can't wait for this weekend when FINALS will be OVER and we can spend more of that kind of time together. The 3 weeks of the year I look forward to the most will start this Friday, when his last final will be turned in! Can't wait.

5) Buying (and celebrating) that gas got down to $1.39 a gallon! Woot woot! We bought the SUPER unleaded at $1.49 on Saturday night. Craziness!

6) Delivering a bazillion cookies to friends and neighbors with the kids. The kids looked like two little elves, all bundled up and tramping around in the snow.
Here's the recipe to our cookies this year. They were just good old-fashioned all-American
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cream 1/2 lb butter with 1 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 T. vanilla. Add in 1-and-a-half eggs, 3/4 tsp soda, 3/4 tsp salt and 3 cups flour. Last mix in 3 cups chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-11 minutes.

Super easy, huh? They're really yummy.

Here's 3 secrets I have for 100% of the time perfect cookies. The kind that are beautiful inside and out. :) Even though chances are, if you're reading a blog you've known these secrets for years. . .I'm sharing anyway. I was in the cookie-making-failure shoes for too many years. If these tips help even one fellow lost homemaker, it's worth it.

Secret #1) Start mixing your cookies by hand. When I asked my friend Jen (who makes amazing cookies) what her secret was, she said she stopped using an electric mixer. I decided to try it out. . .and I swear by it now. Try it and let me know what you think.

Secret #2) The temperature of the butter has to be right! Leave out your butter a bit before you're baking so it's at room temperature. That way you'll be able to cream the sugars and butter BY HAND. (No cheating by putting it in the microwave! You're cookies will spread out too far in the oven) Then, when you're cookies are on the cookie sheet, let them cool for a while in the fridge. The butter will harden up a bit and you're good to go.

Secret #3) Unless you like your cookies crunchy, don't leave them in as long as the recipe says . . .with "golden brown edges" you're cookies will be hard in a hurry. If you like your cookies the way I do -with luscious-drool-producing softness for days- take them out the second you see any hint of golden. They'll continue to bake before you can get them off the cookie sheet anyway. When I take them out, they're borderline-gooey. But as they set up, they're these tight little bundles of goodness. Mmmmm. Good thing they're gone or I'd be devouring them right now. All this cookie chat is getting me goin. :)

Enjoy! And please feel free to share any success stories, or other tips you might have.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The one with some "Have you ever" fun

Try it out for yourself...just copy and paste the list and bold and/or italicize the things you've done...

1. Started your own blog 2. Slept under the stars 3. Played in a band 4. Visited Hawaii 5. Watched a meteor shower 6. Given more than you can afford to charity 7. Been to Disneyland 8. Climbed a mountain 9. Held a praying mantis 10. Sang a solo11. Bungee jumped 12. Visited Paris 13. Watched a lightning storm at sea 14.Taught yourself an art from scratch 15. Adopted a child 16. Had food poisoning 17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty 18. Grown your own vegetables 19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France20. Slept on an overnight train 21. Had a pillow fight 22. Hitch hiked 23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill 24. Built a snow fort 25. Held a lamb 26. Gone skinny dipping 27. Run a 1/2 Marathon 28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice 29. Seen a total eclipse30. Watched a sunrise or sunset 31. Hit a home run. 32. Been on a cruise 33. Seen Niagara Falls in person 34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors 35. Seen an Amish community 36. Taught yourself a new language 37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied 38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person 39. Gone rock climbing 40. Seen Michelangelo’s David 41. Sung karaoke 42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt 43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant 44. Visited Africa 45. Walked on a beach by moonlight 46. Been transported in an ambulance 47. Had your portrait painted 48. Gone deep sea fishing 49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person 50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris 51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling 52. Kissed in the rain 53. Played in the mud 54. Gone to a drive-in theater 55. Been in a movie 56. Visited the Great Wall of China 57. Started a business 58. Taken a martial arts class 59. Visited Russia 60. Served at a soup kitchen 61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies 62. Gone whale watching 63. Got flowers for no reason 64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma 65. Gone sky diving 66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp 67. Bounced a check 68. Flown in a helicopter 69. Saved a favorite childhood toy 70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial 71. Eaten Caviar 72. Pieced a quilt 73. Stood in Times Square 74. Toured the Everglades 75. Been fired from a job 76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London 77. Broken a bone. 78.Been on a speeding motorcycle 79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person 80. Published a book 81. Visited the Vatican 82. Bought a brand new car 83. Walked in Jerusalem 84. Had your picture in the newspaper 85. Read the entire Bible 86. Visited the White House 87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating 88. Had chickenpox 89. Saved someone’s life 90. Sat on a jury 91. Met someone famous 92. Joined a book club 93. Lost a loved one 94. Had a baby 95. Seen the Alamo in person 96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake 97. Been involved in a law suit 98. Owned a cell phone 99. Been stung by a bee 100.Made amends with someone who offended you 101. Flew in a small Cessna plane with just you and the pilot 102. Ran out of gas 103. Eaten fried okra 104. Swam in the Caribbean Sea 105. Peed in a swimming pool (sorry, I was little and I remember..sick!) 106. Stayed in a beach house 107. Hosted an exchange student 108. Been a Secret Santa to a family in need 109. Worked on a political campaign 110. Coached a sports team 111. Baked bread from scratch 112. Driven from coast to coast 113. Paid off all of your debt 114. Roast marshmallows over a campfire 115. Cut up a credit card 116. Drove a car through a flood 117. Been on t.v 118. Had braces 119. Been to the top of the twin towers in NY. 120. Played in both the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans

Thanks, Em! This was fun. :) Except it kinda is depressing how boring I am! Somedays are coming. . .

The one with a Christmas survey

This little Holiday survey has been floating around between several family members and friends. I thought it was fun.. . so here goes:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? It depends on the time crunch. Preferably wrapping paper with a really big fancy curly ribbon
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial...tree sap is a NO.
3. When do you put up the tree? Around turkey day - except this year I put it up the first week of december :(
4. When do you take the tree down? The beginning of January
5. Do you like eggnog? I add 1/2 cup skim milk with 1/2 cup eggnog so it's not so THICK..and then I LOVE IT!!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? an Alvin doll
7. Hardest person to buy for? Kevin
8. Easiest person to buy for ? Halle
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, one that Kev carved for me. It's my fave Christmas decoration in my house
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? By mail...if I get that far that year
11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? An empty gift card
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It's a Wonderful Life
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? All year...
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Kev's cookin'
16. Lights on the tree? I have red and clear lights on our tree..YAY
17. Favorite Christmas song? Oooo...too many to name! This year I'm feeling "Let's be Naughty" by Elliot Yamin, "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Christina Aguilara, "Another Year Has Gone By" Celine Dion, ALL of Michael Bolton's Christmas songs, "The Chipmunk Song" Alvin, Simon & Theodore, "You're a mean one Mr. Grinch"... . . . the list goes ON and ON. Sometimes mid-july I just can't stand it anymore and start listening to 'em all.
The best music is Christmas music.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay at home. . .maybe visit family in the evening
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Dasher Dancer Prancer Vixen, Comet Cupid Donner Blitzen, and of course Rudolph
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Pajamas and Kevin's family's gifts on Christmas Eve. The rest in the morning
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Having to tell people what I want for Christmas. How am I supposed to know these things!!!
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I would LOVE to do a Dr. Seuss tree with some really big, really funky, really brightly colored ornaments. :) I'm gonna do it one of these years :)
24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Kevin make a turkey the way only he does....mmmmmmm
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Kevin to be home - and him not having any homework to study - just plenty of time to relax and be together. And the kids to have a wonderful Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The one with the storm

This morning I woke up listening to a huge winter storm pounding on the roof and rattling the windows. I laid their for a while just listening, glad to be warmly snuggled in bed.

"Kev, I hope you have your winter coat," I thought as I went to the window check it out. But to my surprise, there was no storm. Just beautiful clear blue skies.
And this:
Actually, it's only the end of the "storm". These pictures hardly cut it. (Sorry - I was too glued to the window, afraid to miss any of it, to get my camera for a quite a while) I ran and got Halle and Drew, and the three of us watched thousands and thousands of birds. . . we were running from one window in the house to the other cuz they were on every side of us. It was incredible.
I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for moments like these.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The one with our Holiday "Jammies"

I just bought our anual matching Christmas Pajamas online at Old Navy and Gap. Each year we open one gift the night Santa arrives. . . their Holiday "Jammies".

Aren't we gonna be cute this Christmas Eve?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The one where we went to Vegas

Last week we went down to Vegas for the Thanksgiving holiday. It was so great to get away for a few days!

We left on Wednesday and stopped down in Beaver (our tradition) at the Cheese Factory. They sell 1,000 bags of "squeaky cheese" every day- and luckily Damon & Ora were a few miles ahead of us and were able to save us the very last bag. (and thank goodness, because it really was the squeakiest squeaky cheese yet) I thought we were going to get mauled though-- the place was packed and everyone was grumbling,
"Where'd THEY get that cheese!?!
Ha ha. Apparently our little squeaky-cheese-vacation-stop-tradition has spread. If you're driving south on I-15, make sure to stop there too for some ice cream, squeaky cheese and other goodies. You'll be hooked too.
My sweet cousin let the Argyles and us stay in her condo throughout our stay. THANK YOU, HALEY!
For Thanksgiving dinner we went to my Uncle's house with his large family, some family friends and my Aunt Penny with her family. There were at least 40 people there. I forgot my camera..which is super lame. I really wanted to get some pics of all of us together. Drat. Anyway, it was just wonderful to be able to spend some time with my cousins, aunts and uncle. Ora and I brought the Thanksgiving pies- and we brought 10! Five homemade and five from the store. You should have seen the stack in the fridge! yum.
Friday we wondered around Vegas: the M&M factory, the lions at MGM Grand, the water show at the Bellagio, tried out "Jack in the Box" fast food (a first for me), had dinner at Outback Steakhouse to see my cousins Matt and Tavish who work there, (Did I mention how MUCH FOOD we ate on this trip? Ugh. Treadmill is reeeally getting used this week) and then played with our kids at the condo before we crashed for the night.
Saturday I had a good time with my aunt and cousin Nicole, taking her Senior Pictures. Here's a few of my fave from the shoot:

Then the girls went to the movie "Twilight" while the guys watched the kids. Then we all ate at Mandalay Bay's Bayside Buffet. I don't know if I've ever seen Kevin eat THAT much food. He and Damon had plate after plate after plate of food- mostly crab. On the way back Kevin says "Ummm, I don't feel very good." That's what happens, honey!! Ha ha. The food really was delicious though. I'd highly recommend eating there if you're going to Vegas. It's not too expensive and mmmmm....their dessert bar had these little chocolate cups with fruit and ....ok, I've gotta stop and refocus on treadmill-type thoughts.
We also got to take the kids to the Jonas Brothers concert, which Halle absolutely loved. A huge THANKS to my wonderful cousin, Tina for hooking us up with the tickets. Love you!
Sunday we came back home, but made a last-minute-decision to stop at my Grandparent's St. George house for some quick hugs and hello's. True to the nature of the trip, Grandma made yet another delicious meal for us. Thanks Grandma. :) I asked Halle what her favorite part of the trip was and she said, "Seeing Grandma". My grandparents are two of the best people on the planet, and two of my closest friends.

I'm so glad we thought to stop. Last year when Grandpa had knee surgery, we went to the hospital to visit him. He was so happy to see us. I'll never forget what he said:

"...you get to be old like this, honey, and you realize what is most special in life. It is what WE have right here. You know, the feelings between you and me. This is what matters..." Love you, Grandpa

We got home Sunday night, and since I've been trying to catch up on things. Monday I uploaded a wedding album I made for one of my clients. Go here if you want to check it out.
Now I'm doing laundry and decorating for Christmas. And updatin' the blog, of course. You know, all the important stuff. :)
It was a good Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The one about Drew's little finger

We had just got in an elevator in Vegas and were headed down. I looked around to watch Drew, who is always sooooo cute in an elevator- how he puts out those sweet little hands to steady himself and his eyes get all big and worried- when a

1,000,000 pound brick

hit me right in my stomach. Or that's what it felt like anyway.

Drew was gone.

And I totally panicked:

"Where's Drew?
Where is Drew!?
Where Is Drew?!?!?"

Ora's next to me panicking too. I'm immediately having all sorts of visions...and if you're a mom, you know exactly what they looked like. There are no words I want to even use to describe them.

We are stuck in here. Can the doors open while it's moving? Are the stairs faster or can I stand still long enough to ride the elevator back up? Where would the nearest security guard be? Why do they make these darn elevators so stinkin small?

"Mom, Drew's in the stroller." Halle said.

It was probably only 8 seconds total. He was there. Right in front of me, safely hidden in the stroller. It could have been funny, if it had been some thing other than my son. I had involuntary tears spilling out all over everything. Humiliating myself all through the casino when they wouldn't stop coming. Over reacting like that just comes with the mom-territory, I guess.

Anyway, I'm so grateful right now that my little man is running around the house, making all his usual spills and messes. What would I do without him?

How would I get ready in the morning without him picking out my outfit for me like he does? "Mom-ma, this shirt is beautiful for you!" Then when I try it on, "Mom, that IS beautiful for you, hoo-wa Mom?"

Or how he keeps saying new things like "This is Amazing!" or "This is simply great" or "This is the coolest things of my life I've ever seen before" or "Ya, that could be a good idea, hoo-wa mom?" Which really are (somewhat) normal things to say, but it's just so much better coming from one so small.

And then a few days ago he melted me when he told me:

"Mom-ma. All I need is you."

Kev says he's got me wrapped around his little finger.

And he's right.
. . .