Thursday, December 31, 2009

White, Wonderful Christmas

We enjoyed our Christmas visit to Utah. Doesn't it make the world go round to be near family for the holidays? We arrived via Southwest Airlines on Wednesday and were picked up by my parents and my two brothers, Parker and Kip. It was a fun chat back to Nephi, about an hour and fifteen-minute drive. We ate a yummy dinner of Crockpot sloppy joes before heading to bed. Thanks for giving up your bed for us, Parker! Thursday started out with John making his famous Weir Waffles for my family. A hit for sure! Charloe and her family arrived just before our big Christmas dinner. Mom decided to make it on Christmas Eve this year, and not a single person complained! Gary even showed up to eat the turkey breast, ham, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, Merrill's stuffing, and dinner rolls. It felt foreign to not have Jeffy Jell-O, but no one noticed because of the mass amounts of food on the table! It was an incredible meal! After it got dark, we went to the Old Mill Park to admire the Christmas lights and sing some carols as a family. It was fun, but a little chilly for my taste. We returned home to some hot chocolate, board games, and reading Luke chapter 2.

Christmas was an amazing day. Everyone got such wonderful presents, and it once again made me realize how blessed we are. It was fun for Santa to come to my niece and nephew, Brynn and Corban. They got tons of presents and loved opening every single one! John gave my little brothers a neat present...he burned every classic Nintendo game ever made onto a CD and bought them controllers that connect to the family computer. They can play Nintendo any time they want, and Mom may hate us in a few months! John hid a present for me in the tree...the soundtrack to my favorite movie, White Christmas! He couldn't locate it anywhere, so he made a copy from me using our DVD! Is he amazing or what? It was an incredible Christmas morning.

Saturday morning was full of work. We kids gave my parents a new kitchen! They have sixteen settings of plates, bowls, salad plates, fruit bowls, mugs, and silverware. We also got them new glasses and some serving bowls and platters. So on Saturday morning, we revamped the kitchen to replace all the old stuff with the new. It looks amazing! T'liese and I went shopping three months ago for everything and had to wait this long for them to get it! I think they will really enjoy their new things! Later that morning, Aunt LeAnn and cousins Dolly (with her adorable son, Connor) and Angel arrived to help us tie some baby quilts for T'liese. It went too quickly with amazing results! Afterwards, we visited while the boys went sledding. Everyone had a great time, and I didn't get cold and wet! That evening, we watched a few more episodes of Jericho, which Mom got for her birthday. What a great show! We even borrowed it to finish the rest at home!

Sunday meant church at 1:00 PM, then dinner of an amazing beef roast and roasted potatoes and carrots. Everything tasted so good, especially since it was our first official meal since Thursday! We had eaten from our incredible Utah Snack Table for three days and couldn't get enough! After dinner, we packed up and headed to Salt Lake City. It was way too cold to enjoy the lights at Temple Square, so we wimped out and went straight to the hotel. I got us free rooms near the airport with my hotel points so they could be close to the hospital he following morning for Parker's successful ear surgery. After arriving, we watched some Food Network then went to bed.

Monday morning, John and I slept in then headed to the airport for our flight home. Even though it was delayed an hour, we still made it to our house by 6:00 PM that evening. What an incredible trip! The only downside is how quickly everything went! It's our fault...if we weren't having so much fun, it would seemed longer!

Thanks for a great Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Return to Paradise

We pulled into our driveway, just after dark. Sighs of relief escaped our felt so good to be home! Despite having a wonderful time in Utah for Christmas, it is always nice to come back to the place that houses all of our stuff (including six beds that we don't own, two that we do)!

We unloaded our luggage from the trunk and opened the side gate to walk towards our apartment. John carried our heavy bags down the stairs as I followed carrying our coats and carry-on. At the bottom of the stairs, I turned my key to unlock our door (with a gorgeous wreath on it, don't forget). Always the gentleman, John motioned for me to enter first. The kitchen was dark, so I went straight to the light switch. And found...

A Cuisinart Stand Mixer! I have been wanting one for I don't know how long, and there it was shining at me on our table with a big red bow. I was in shock. I stared at the contraption on the table...the most beautiful kitchen appliance I had ever seen. And it was in MY kitchen! I walked over to it slowly, afraid that it was all just a wonderful dream that would disappear as I got closer. I lightly touched it and felt stainless steel. Nope. Not dreaming. I started to cry. Hyperventilate. Gush. Jump up and down. Scream. All of the above. I couldn't believe it! That 800-watt power monster machine that refuses to show fingerprints was in MY kitchen!

From now on, John will be known as Mr. W(onderful). Just when I didn't think Christmas could possibly get any better, he finishes like that! What a guy! And what a mixer! No doubt everything I make will taste much better now that it will come in contact with MY Cuisinart Stand Mixer!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh What A Night

Christmas came to our house last night. We heard a clip-clop on the roof, and suddenly tons of presents appeared under our tree. What a wonderful night! I finished baking some goodies to take to Utah so we don't waste all of our time cooking instead of eating! Then John and I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies, White Christmas, enjoying every moment (no, face started to hurt because I smiled the entire time). I need that soundtrack, but apparently it's impossible to get. After the movie, which lasted approximately seventeen hours, we opened presents!

Santa and "The Cleaning Elves" were very good to us both. John got some computer games, a new expandable fishing rod, new pajama pants, some speaker stands for his surround system, chocolates, the new Glenn Beck book and audio CD (because someone didn't read well enough on Amazon to know he wanted the audio CD), and a new 500 GB portable hard drive. I totally lucked out with lots of goodies, including some cookbooks that I have been wanting forever (How to Cook Without a Cookbook, and Parties by Barefoot favorite chef!). I also got the movie, Phantom of the Opera, which John introduced to me last year. After watching, I immediately downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes and listen to it every day! I got some new baking sheets, including a miniature Madeleine pan and a removable-bottom 9-inch tart pan. I also got a cookbook holder, of which my neck is already grateful! It was a great evening. And it ain't ova yet! I get to spend another six days celebrating Christmas as we travel to Utah this afternoon!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Sales...Already?

When I hear of Christmas decoration sales, I go a little crazy in the head. And then I start to think about what things I am still in dire need of to decorate our home. I hung a Christmas wreath weeks ago but haven't liked how it looked hanging outside. It was almost shameful to unlock my door and see it hanging there, lifelessly. I avoided eye contact with it, just to make myself feel a little better about owning such an insufficient piece of holiday greenery.

So when I discovered a Christmas sale at Michael's, I sped on over (except in the school zones, mind you). And I found it. The perfect, substantial Christmas wreath that is now proudly displayed at the entrance to our house. The glitter glitters. The fake snow crystals glisten. The pine cones are pine-coney! And I love the natural look of the wreath. NOW I feel ready for Christmas! Which, by the way, is happening at our house this evening. We are traveling to Utah tomorrow to spend the holidays with my family, so John and I are opening presents tonight. He is making me wait until AFTER we watch White Christmas. I honestly don't know if I can make it that long!

Pictures forthcoming tomorrow of our Christmas extravaganza! In the meantime, I am headed outside to drool at my perfect Christmas Wreath. It doesn't take much to make me happy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thisters and Thai Food

During my time at home, I get to spend some afternoons with my sister in the valley, T'liese. She is fun to be around, and we always enjoy spending time together (whether we are shopping or eating or doing absolutely nothing). We are at each others houses often but have no photographic proof of such. Rather than feeling like Big Foot contributors, we decided to document one of our fun days spent together.

We usually try to plan something fun around food, and I was really wanting to try something new. T'liese and her husband, Joe, eat Thai food all the time and rant and rave about how good the curry dishes are. I love ethnic foods but am ashamed to admit I have never tried Thai. The true rumors that is is known for being spicy more than likely scared me away, since my mouth is pretty wimpy when it comes to heat. The meal was delicious! We accidentally went during the lunch rush, which was terrible. Over thirty tables and only two servers? Come on! When the food finally arrived at our table, T'liese dug in to her usual, the Chicken Green Curry. I tried a (mild, please!) stir-fry, the Siamese Basil with Chicken. It was simply wonderful. And just what I was looking for. I tried hers and she tried mine, but we were both happier to keep what we had ordered. And I can officially mark it off my list of things to do...Thai food: check.

After the lunch, we proceeded back to the house to watch what got us together in the first place...It's A Wonderful Life. However, due to the highly technical demands of switching wires and cables and things marked in Chinese lettering, we were unable to get the sound to work from the DVD. We settled on watching three episodes of Barefoot Contessa (my favorite cooker lady!) on her DVR and vowed to make up for missing one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time next Monday at my house. John has made my life easy...just putting the DVD in our player turns on the TV, receiver, surround sound and popcorn machine! Well, maybe not on the popcorn, but I am sure he could do that if I asked!

I like my sis. We always enjoy our time together. I don't mind the excuse to get together again this coming week. We might even get some shopping in there, too, since I live just a few miles away from the world's greatest TJ Maxx and Homegoods store. I think she is finally starting to come around!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Free Time = Christmas Goodies!

I love being home during the holidays. I think there are a few songs out there where other people voice that same sentiment. Being home this week has allowed me to work on lots of fun things. Unfortunately, I had my Christmas shopping done weeks ago (I love Amazon), and I wrapped the last things today. My parents are going to have a ridiculous Christmas from us kids, and most of it is already up there. I keep finding more I want to get them, so I wrapped that today as well. Hopefully I can fit it in my luggage next Wednesday...when we fly to UTAH for Christmas! I am really looking forward to it. And I have the Christmas Countdown Chain to prove it.

Today, since I had some time at home with a bag of M&Ms and some softened butter, I thought I would knock out the local neighbor and family Christmas goodies. I admit it may just be another excuse to bake something, but the neighbors have to eat, too. Come on.

When shopping a few weeks ago with my sister, I found these adorable gift boxes that I instantly fell in love with. After assembling them this afternoon, it was difficult to give them away! I like cute and little things, by the way. I filled them full of The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever, minus the chocolate chips but added M&M Christmas candies. After tying a little red velvet ribbon on top and adding a printed Christmas label, they were ready for delivery! It will be good for everyone involved when this holiday season is over. In the meantime, my oven and I will celebrate appropriately.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 2nd Annual Family Christmas Snack Table

The much-anticipated night came and went. Fourteen tons of holiday food were devoured. Games were played. Visiting was accomplished. And we all went to bed with tummy aches (something to do with fourteen tons of food being devoured, no doubt) and hurt faces (from laughing so much over six hours).

The pratty began at 4:00 PM and didn't end until after 11:00. We have so much fun together, it is often hard to kick them out. As with most family time, the theme of the evening was eating. I even removed the kitchen chairs so as to reduce the items preventing frequent and easy accessibility to the Snack Table. The menu this year was amazing! T'liese and Joe brought her world-famous caramel corn, a fruit platter with dip (I know, we were shocked, too), and spinach artichoke dip with baguettes necessary to smother the (healthy) goodness. Jeff and Megan brought some Muddy Buddies and pickle ham wraps, which are always delicious. I hosted this year, which meant I had lots of excuses to make too much. We set up a hot chocolate bar and also had wassail in the slow cooker. On the table, John and I made mint Oreo truffles, lemon poppers, red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese and whipped cream frosting, homemade salsa with authentico fresh tortilla chips, and dream bites (kind of a blond brownie with coconut). We also had peanut and plain M&Ms, mixed nuts, and Hershey Kisses to nibble on. Needless to say, the table was packed. And everything tasted so good! I was a little worried when people said they were full after just an hour. Miraculously, they found their second (then third, fourth, and eventually twentieth) wind and hit the table time and again! I didn't want to be stuck with all that food afterwards (that's partially true), so I thought in advance to get some Christmas plastic containers to send some goodies home with them.

We played Scattergories, one of our favorite get-together games, and I learned a valuable lesson. Halfway through the game, do not announce your present score to the rest of the group as they will proceed to vote down every single answer you make from that point forward. I still managed to win, but it required some serious effort. My family is rather, how do you say, competitive? And they cheat if it means some extra points. I really have to be on my toes to make sure fair play is in effect.

It was terrible when the evening came to a close. Megan and T'liese ate so much that they looked pregnant! Megan just hit 35 weeks, and T'liese is at 31 weeks. Within two months, we will have two more mouths to feed at these family gatherings. I better start baking now in preparation...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let It Be Known...

...that I passionately love my job. Never mind that every place we landed this week was less than 20 degrees in temperature. And when the windchill was factored in, my teeth started chattering just thinking of the number (forty degrees colder, in case you want to share in the misery with me). Never mind that we got called on Wednesday at 4:15 PM to depart Sky Harbor Airport at 5:00 PM! And fly to the east coast. Even considering all of this, I completely love my job. It felt so great to be in the sky again! I could have easily done without the 55 MPH winds when it was already zero degrees outside (why isn't Florida ever on their map in the winter?). But all things, considered, it was a great week at work.

I was severely reminded why I love living in Phoenix. I hate being cold. I dread it. I pile on layers of clothing and coats to attempt to counteract what I am going to feel outside. I am still unsure how I survived four winters in North Dakota. If I have my way, I will live somewhere warm for the rest of my life! We all know heaven doesn't have snow and is always set to a perfect 77 degrees.

We had Big Boss and four additional passengers on board this week, including one's 9 year-old son. He got ten pounds of jelly beans at our last stop in Chicago. I was hoping he would forget about them and leave them on the airplane, but no such luck. I love the people I work for. Even if they do try to freeze my little brain for six months each year! We even visited two new airports at Fitchburg and Waukegan. It's fun to see new places (from the warm indoors, of course).

Sorry if this seems to be mostly about temperatures. It was definitely a theme at work this week! I am still trying to thaw out, but I think sleeping next to a warm husband helps!

Phoenix, Arizona - Salina, Kansas (for fuel) - Boston (Hanscom Field in Bedford) - Fitchburg, Massachusetts - Baltimore, Maryland - Rochester, New York - Chicago (Waukegan Field) - Garden City, Kansas (for fuel) - Phoenix, Arizona

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Think It's A Girl

Saturday's busy events continued with a wonderful baby shower for my sister-in-law, Megan. This incredible lady married my brother almost three years ago, and they are having baby Mayla in January. We can hardly wait for her to arrive, so attending a party to celebrate Megan's growing belly made the day complete!

After my Girl Scout adventure, I arrived at T'liese's house shortly before noon. We carpooled together to Scottsdale, where she had some goodies to drop off for her old co-workers at Spa Avania where she worked until this past June. The spa is located at the Hyatt Gainey Ranch Resort and is was so fun to see where T'liese spent a few years of her life!

We then drove to the Biltmore in Phoenix to let the festivities begin. In case we got lost, we saw a sign directing us for Megan's Baby Shower. Believe me, every single thing was considered for this party! The decorations were immaculate, located in the Grand Ballroom at one of the most prestigious hotels in the valley. Being so awesome, T'liese and I were the first ones there. It gave us the chance to scope out the steak carving table, the jumbo shrimp cocktail bar, and the made-to-order pasta table where a chef prepared goodness on every plate. Unfortunately, we had to wait almost another hour before all fifty guests had arrived and we were given the approval to start eating. The food was fabulous! And the decorations? My goodness. They went all-out! The centerpiece was a baby basket full of fresh flowers. Even the glassware was tinted pink! The tables were perfectly set for the party to begin! A three-layer cake was on display. Upon arrival, Megan simply glowed! She is going to be such a great mama. Her belly is huge and adorable, though the pictures don't give it justice. It was fun being there to represent Jeff's side of the family.

After lunch, we played some games of dressing up as "babies" and being judged by the crowd on who did the best. Had we known we were playing for $250 gift cards, I am sure we would have put a little more energy into it! We also created nursery rhymes for Megan to sing to Mayla on those upcoming sleepless nights filled with the crying of a newborn baby. We lost that one, too, but I think we had a better idea than everyone else! It didn't help that Megan's dad, Alfredo, was the judge and picked his other daughter, Maddy, as one of the winners! We are good losers, though. The cake probably had something to do with that.

And then the present-opening ceremony began. And went on for three decades. Megan hit the mother lode and got tons of presents. It looks like everyone likes her as much as us! T'liese and I snuck out about 5:30 so she could get to some other engagements. It was a beautiful party to celebrate a beautiful lady and baby on the way. Megan, you are a keeper! Now let's just get that baby here!

Girl Scouts, Minus the Thin Mint Cookies

It was an action-packed weekend from Friday on. I headed to the airport to watch some Hawker Beechcraft mechanics finish a few things left on my airplane from our inspection three months ago. The parts we needed were hard to track down, but they finally arrived. Our right hydraulic switch got replaced and passed leak tests during the engine runs, as I am sure everyone will be relieved to know! And we also (hopefully) got our ice bucket fixed to drain water better. Stagnant water inside lines that don't drain eventually lead to a water overflow inside my airplane, and not a good-smelling one, either! Unfortunately, the Japanese designed the drain hole to be level with the drain tube. We also had an oxygen mask holster broken during our inspection, and the part arrived in time to get it replaced now. It was so convenient to have the mechanics come to me at Swift Aviation instead of having to spend $1,000 to fly it down and back from Williams-Gateway Airport in southeastern Mesa. I like when maintenance items are minor enough they can simply bring a bag of tools and fix it on sight! I tell ya, my sweet-talking skills come in pretty handy when negotiating maintenance issues!

I got the airplane fixed just in time for the real fun to begin...on a chilly Saturday morning. A few months ago, I was put in contact with a Girl Scout troop leader who wanted to show her girls a female corporate pilot's airplane. After much planning and anticipation, eight girls and three troop leaders showed up to hear all about flying and to explore my Beechjet. It was a lot of fun to spend a few hours with them. I always volunteer stuff like this to people so I can try to pay back how great I have it! The whole reason I am a pilot today is because a helicopter landed in the playground at school when I was in the first grade. As the pilot talked to us, I thought to myself, "That's it. I want to be a pilot." Other than a short stint in high school of wanting to be a spy (until I figured out that I could fly and be a spy), I have always known exactly what I wanted to be! I hoped this chance to spend time with the Girl Scouts would have a positive impact on them. However, I think the only lasting impression made on them was that our lavatory is considered a passenger seat!

We lucked out and also got to walk through Swift Aviation's Boeing 737-400. They charter it to transport sports teams such as the Suns, Coyotes, Celtics, Kings, and lots of bigwigs. I guess being a Girl Scout gets you special treatment, since I haven't even seen this before! It just made the day that much better. The girls were well-behaved and asked great questions. Their troop leaders were really neat and fun to have around. No one got sucked into an engine on the ramp. The airport police were only called four times. And who knows? Maybe in ten years, one of them will want to be a pilot because she remembers how cool it was to sit in Steve Nash's seat.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Marital Advice from a Pro

Shortly before we got married, John and I had an interview with our Stake President to give us the final thumbs-up for the wedding. After telling some fun stories, he got a very serious look on his face. He warned us that the advice he was about to give was critical in creating a happy marriage. We both leaned forward on our seats to hear his precious words. "John, listen to your wife and trust her fashion advice. If she says to change something you're wearing, do it. Women just know these things, and men, well, men do not. Listen to her when you are deciding what to wear."

We left his office with the advice affecting each of us differently. I was floored! And so excited! Out of all the things to tell us about marital secrets, that was what he wanted to impart to us as being important! John, however, disregarded the advice as the rantings of a crazy man. It has been funny (I use that term veeeeery loosely) to see how his clothing plays a part in our marriage.

When we started dated, John was wearing jeans he had worn out in high school. One size too small. And very faded. His t-shirts were all old and raggedy and were usually too short around the arms and belly. Fortunately for him, dating me meant a total wardrobe makeover, in a good way. I didn't want to change him or make him into something he wasn't. I simply wanted to enhance what was already there! Within a few months, John had a lot of new clothes that I was proud of him wearing. He even got a few pairs of new shoes, even though it's like pulling teeth to get him to wear them. He is all about comfort and refuses to give up his old high-top sneakers that look terrible even in their best showing.

This morning, my heart went pitter-pat when he got dressed for a special meeting he had arranged for class. Utilizing the wonderful selection in his closet, John put on his Calvin Klein khakis (good for making him look tan because they are even whiter than him!), his Banana Republic polo shirt, and his Cole Haan leather loafers. I only mention the brand names because they are all known for looking good while being comfortable. John even posed to "give out the vibe" like Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber. I think he looks so handsome, and I didn't hesitate to tell him so about a hundred times before he left this morning! Now if I could just figure out how to throw away those old sneakers without being served divorce papers in the process, I think we would be that much closer to following our Stake President's hallowed advice of following the wife's intuition for fashion.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Box

I don't know what's inside. Which creates a little suspense and fun, since I LOVE surprises. At the same time, seeing this monstrosity in the spare room every time I walk past might drive me crazy before Christmas gets here. It arrived on our doorstep last week. It weighs more than our discussed budget should weigh, so does that give me justification to spend more on him (like I so very much want?). While I was running errands, he opened the box to check contents. You can see from his taping job that the same insight isn't allowed for me. I tease him occasionally by asking him what he would do if I looked inside. But I think we both know how much I love surprises, tortuous as they can sometimes be. I wouldn't dream of looking and risk spoiling the present he wants me to have for Christmas. But you see that smile on the box? The one that Amazon puts there intentionally to slap me in the face at least a hundred times a day? It has started to taunt me..."Micah. Miiiiiiicah. Open me, Micah. You know you want to see what's inside of me. Just open me and get it over with." How much longer can I resist such sane invitations?

This has nothing to do with my ability to hear what I want, when I want. And the smile on my face matches the size of the smile on the box. I don't mind a little taunting now and then.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Welcome, Christmas, My Dear Friend

It has been tough waiting eleven months to put out my Christmas decorations. I am often confused for one of those weird people who doesn't mind Christmas music playing on the radio in August. And I certainly don't get upset when stores start putting out their Christmas items before Halloween. For me, the more the merrier. I cannot get enough of this magical holiday season that we have now officially entered. I can jump up and down and scrunch my fingers in excitement, because it is finally time.

During after-Christmas clearance sales last year, I snagged some fun things like an advent calendar (still shamefully empty of Hershey Kisses inside for each day, but that will be fixed by Monday), a beautiful Christmas wreath candle holder (please ignore the tea lights...real candles will be present by Monday as well), and Christmas ornaments galore for random apothecary jars of Christmas color. Do I need to get out more?! If you think I should "get out more" to purchase more Christmas goodies, then fine. I am game. If you think I am a little obsessed about this wonderful holiday, you are just jealous of me exuding this cheer over half of the southern United States. I love love LOVE Christmas.

Decorating the tree tonight was fun. John did the hard work of putting up the pre-lit tree (purchased for Christmas last year) then got to rest while I carefully and methodically placed the ornaments (also purchased last year...Costco loves us!). We turned on some holiday music and before long the tree was simply magical. One of the best things about this next month is needing no excuse to turn out all house lights, fire up the tree, sit on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate, and admire the beauty. It is the perfect time to reflect on past Christmases, time with family, and why we celebrate this joyous season in the first place. I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy this Christmas season (my second one with John). I will no doubt say it a million times over the next twenty-seven days, but Merry Christmas, everyone!

Turkeys and Skunks

We had such a wonderful time in Snowflake, Arizona visiting John's parents for Thanksgiving. Because John had class until 10:00 PM on Wednesday night, we were unable to leave until Thursday morning. Luckily, the weather was gorgeous for the three-hour drive. We pulled into the driveway at 11:45 AM on Thanksgiving morning, to a beautiful new porch that is almost complete! We helped finish the last fixings for dinner before eating around 1:30 PM, with Mick and Donna (John's parents), Brian and Julie (John's brother and wife), Chelsea, Dallin, and Nathan (Brian and Julie's kids), and Catalina (the foreign-exchange student staying with Brian and Julie for the school year). It was a full house indeed, but Mick and Donna had planned ahead by making two humongous turkeys, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, stuffing, cranberries, and only five desserts. Donna must have spent all day Wednesday making cherry pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie, Reese's chocolate delight, and strawberry cheesecake. It was impossible to pick a favorite as they were all incredibly delicious. I willingly tried all of them over our two-day stay.

After cleaning up the dishes, we spent some time next door at Brian and Julie's home. They have a projector that plays their X-Box on an entire wall, so the family had a fun time playing games with life-size characters. We played lots of cribbage over the weekend, which is one of my favorite games from growing up. There is proof of me beating Mick so badly that I "skunked" him, or won before he even had a chance to turn the last corner on the pegging board. It was just a treat to play, since I rarely get to any more! Winning almost every game? Well, that didn't hurt my self-esteem, either.

Friday was a fun, lazy day. We awakened early and got treated to homemade waffles from Mick. Lunch was leftovers from the day before, and then Mick, Donna, John and I headed to Show Low twenty minutes away to watch the movie 2012 in the local theatre. It was very good and loud...I enjoyed it! After the movie we headed back to Snowflake to pick up Brian and Julie so we could have an adult date at Eva's, a scrumptious Mexican restaurant in town. It may seem as if most of the weekend revolved around food, and that is precisely what happened! It was idea of a perfect holiday! John and I are now professional tree decorators, since we helped his parents, then his brother's family with their Christmas trees.

Saturday morning, we woke up to a cold rainstorm. I checked the weather to make sure no snow would be coming, and it looked like our drive home would be fine. We left around 11:45 AM after a nice morning visiting with family. Since we haven't traveled this year because of school, we decided to go all out and stop in Payson on our drive home to eat a burger at a local restaurant. It was fun to do something so spontaneous! I must have been hungry, because it was the best Philly Cheesesteak I have ever had! We made it back to the valley just after two and proceeded to unpack from the trip.

We really enjoyed our time with family. We don't make it to Snowflake very often. If the weather was as nice as this visit, we would go up every weekend! It was wind and temperatures in the low 60s. For this time of year, it was incredible! Thanks for such a great Turkey Day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Never Moon a Werewolf

This afternoon, T'liese and I attended the world-renowned movie, New Moon. After waiting in line for three hours last year for the first movie in the Twilight saga, we thought a better day and time would suit our purposes this time around. We first had lunch in the food court of the Arizona Mills Mall. It's a ghetto facility, but definitely half-way between our two houses and most convenient. I love getting half a sandwich and a small Caesar salad from Paradise Bakery. What? That includes a free chocolate chip cookie? Well, OK...if you absolutely insist. As you can see, it's a good thing we got there early because of the killer crowds. We had to beat a few ladies up to get decent seats. It wasn't pretty. Luckily, T'liese carries brass knuckles in her purse at all times (and apparently my weapons of choice are Mike 'N Ikes, Milk Duds, and Swedish Fish). The knuckles helped give us the edge in finding (and keeping) good seats. Just because we are cheap and refuse to pay more than the matinee price of $7.00 doesn't mean we don't care about the view.

And what a view. I have never seen so many vampires, werewolves, and other mythical creatures without shirts for such prolonged periods of time. It was, how should I say, delightful? Shocking? Terrible because I am ten years older than Jacob Black? Just numbers, I assure you. Apparently, he likes older women.

Don't be confused by my ramblings. I am very much still a proud member of Team Edward. If you read the books, you understand why. Shirtless or not, I still prefer the sparkly Cold One.

Monday, November 23, 2009

T'liese Celebrates an Undisclosed Age

We had a lovely evening at the Friend's home last night to celebrate T'liese's birthday. She married into such an incredible family, and they wanted to be in on the fun of wishing T'liese a happy new decade. Joe gave a speech about his family meeting her for the first time three years ago, and they said he was crazy if he didn't snatch her up. We had cake and ice cream and visited to catch up. Because three of the five women present were expecting babies in the next few months, lots of war stories from the delivery room were also recounted. Hearing stuff like that just makes me happy I am not in the same boat!

We had a great time, as we always do when we get together. Happy Berfday, T'liese!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Successful Day of Baby Showering

The baby shower came and went. Lots of women got diabetes while in attendance (it's how I gauge whether a party was successful or not). There were all kinds of goodies to eat, and lots of gals who enjoyed chit-chatting! It was so fun to get together to celebrate a baby on the way!

We showed up early to help Anndalyn get the rest of the decorations and food ready. She has such cute ideas, including her present to T'liese of an apothecary jar full of "eggs" which were the clothes and onesies tied to look like little bundles. They were adorable, Her home is so gorgeous, and the good news is they said I could move in downstairs! I could deal very well with having to use two convection ovens!

We had about eighteen giddy women in house, and we all enjoyed rubbing T'liese's belly and asking about potential names for her little boy. He will be here in February. We can't wait!

Since T'liese's birthday was just the next day, her husband, Joe, devised an ingenious plan to surprise her with a beautiful birthday cake during the shower! I was in on the secret because I brought the cake, and Anndalyn let him into the garage with his truck so T'liese wouldn't be suspicious! It was perfect! All of a sudden, Joe walked in carrying a birthday cake! We caught T'liese off guard, and her reaction was so much fun!

T'liese, Happy Birthday to you. And we can't wait until your little one makes his presence known! I am making an assumption from knowing his parents, but he has no choice but to be wonderful!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Favors and Fun

Tomorrow is the big day. The day we celebrate my sister's first baby. Tomorrow we gather as a bunch of women to oooo and ahhhhh over a big belly. Why it's only cute when pregnant, I know not. I have been working on projects all week to get ready for this wonderful event. I am hosting, along with a friend of T'liese's. We are expecting about 20 friends and family members to be in attendance, and I have been baking up a storm in preparation.

This morning, I took a break to assemble the favors with T'liese. She made chocolate birds nests, while I supplied the Oreo Truffles shaped and painted like robin eggs. We high-fived several times throughout the day because of their complete perfection and adorable appearance. "Martha Stewart has nothing on us." We said it several times and chuckled. To ourselves. This is going to be one swingin' party!

Now, if you will excuse me, I have some ferocious baking to attend to in order to be ready for tomorrow. A baby shower for my best friend, T'liese! Thanks for a fun day, sister. I can't wait for tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Madness

It has been such a busy week as I am working on countless projects. I took a time-out today to perform surgery in the kitchen, once again. Should I get this giddy about making a mess of dishes? These tiny chocolate peanut butter cookies are insane and come fully loaded with three different kinds of peanut butter goodies to discover in each bite! Reese's Pieces, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Reese's Peanut Butter Chips. I don't know what more one could possibly want out of life. For chocoholics with an obsession for peanut butter, this may be right up your alley.

Some day, I won't live in a basement and have such dark photos. For now, we will just have to deal with the mysteriousness evoked from taking food photos in a dungeon!

These are going on the menu for sure! I am sending a batch over to John's coworkers so they can give their official approval

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Recipe Testing - Someone's Gotta Do It!

I spent my day off creating a few batches of goodies for potential use in my bite-size treats catering business. I did a test-run of Mini Cheese Danishes, which I am making for T'liese's baby shower next Saturday. I didn't want that morning to arrive without me knowing these would turn out. Be assured...they turned out! They were absolutely delicious and oh so tender! One of my new cookbooks teaches me how to make puff pastry, but it can be a process requiring several days and lots of beating and kneading and (hopefully not) cussing. Going to the freezer section of my grocery store was much easier! And the danishes still melted in my mouth despite the dough not being made from scratch this time!

My second attempt was a chocolate cheesecake cupcake with a gooey chocolate glaze. Everything was delicious except the appearance of the glaze, which formed an awkward ball prior to frosting and led to the cupcakes looking like a disgrace. They still tasted good, but people eat with their eyes first! I knew I was in trouble when John took a second look at them before eating half a dozen! Back to the drawing board, at least for the frosting!

It was fun to move along a little more towards creating a full menu to offer to clients. I sure am having fun with this!

Ankle Update

John is still on crutches, and these pictures certainly show why. The bruising has spread throughout his entire leg up to his knee. Because of the swelling, his entire leg aches. Isn't it pretty? When I first came home from work, I thought he was wearing a fuzzy purple and yellow boot (you can imagine my relief when this was not the case). I am amazed at how the muscle on his leg has suffered through lack of use these past two weeks. He is hoping to be walking before Monday so he doesn't have to worry about carrying his books, laptop, and brain while trying to maneuver crutches as he hobbles to class. It is still too painful to put any weight on it. And because of the swelling through his leg, it's hard for him to find a resting place that is free from pain. I have been forcing ibuprofen on him as often as he will let me. Hopefully it will be on the mend soon!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Denver, Detroit, and NYC

My airplane departed Monday evening for Denver Jeffco Airport, with me in the Captain Seat. I hadn't been there before (we always fly into the Centennial Airport), so I was pretty excited. And a night flight with Ron is so rare since he prefers to leave early in the morning, so I love getting some night landings in! I flew all week, and I was happy with my work. There is always something I want to do better, but it would probably be a boring life if everything was done perfectly!

We left for Detroit Willow Run Airport on Tuesday morning. Rather than spending the night there, Ron decided to continue on to Teterboro Airport. Of course, we found this out just as we sat down to a dinner of Mexican food near the airport. We rushed back and beat him there! We stayed in Teterboro until Thursday afternoon when we made the loooooooong trek west to Phoenix. Yet another night landing! The weather was beautiful, and if I had gusty winds on landing, they were right down the runway. How blessed am I? I ran some errands near the hotel on Wednesday and worked on some projects from my hotel room.

It was a pleasant surprise to head home before Friday. I pulled into my driveway at 8:00 PM and got to see John's ankle (no better...and his whole leg is now yellow, purple, and achy!). I am testing some recipes today and cleaning house. And enjoying a day home with John, since he has the day off!

It was a great week at work, even if it was short and sweet!

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