Friday, January 4, 2013

Because One Snack Table is Never Enough


Believe it or not, this was actually Hubby’s idea. To have another Snack Table Party, but this time with his side of the family.

It sounds like one of my crazy ideas, huh?

When he pitched his suggestion to throw a party to me, it seemed like a peaceable option. So I went along with it. Just a few nights after the 2012 Annual Family Christmas Snack Table, we had four couples over from Hubby’s family.


I love hosting parties. Did you know that about me? And I would probably do it every week, if I could get away with it.

Dang budget…

Student loans really cramp so much of my style!


I don’t know how to say this without being disowned, but this party spread was actually better than the one that we experienced with my family. Everyone brought a few things to enjoy. I made three types of treats and Alton Brown’s Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Others brought meatballs, mini wienies (much to Hubby’s delight), two types of chicken wings, veggie wraps, Krispy Kreme Donuts, and bean dip.


These meatballs were made by Hubby’s cousin, Barbara. Everything tasted so good!

Maybe it helped that Uncle Ben brought fun hats for us all to wear. I was Mrs. Claus all night, but we also had a jester and a Dr. Seuss with us as well.


Boy oh boy. I get hungry just looking at all of this! It looks like a partay!


Jalapeno Poppers, store-bought cookies (wha?), and veggie wraps. I also brought out the troughs to fill with candy. It’s appropriate at a pig-supporting event such as this.


We put appetizer plates and silverware in a few different places so people could really load up. My only complaint was that the plates weren’t big enough, and I think people were too shy to get two plates.

Luckily, to solve this awful dilemma, I found some gorgeous red and white dinner plates on clearance for a dollar during my post-Christmas shopping excursion. We will have great plates to use next year…if I can wait that long!

Aren’t those napkins cute? One of the few things that I will risk purchasing at IKEA…


I’m surprised that our electrical system could handle so much goodness taking place. There were lots of yummy foods plugged in to stay warm.

Unfortunately, something didn’t stay as warm as it needed. Hubby has a tummy bug for a few days after this, and we think that it was something that he ate during this party.

Poor kid. I hate when he gets that skinny!


We all “stocked up” on fat reserves tonight. Maybe I should have made a fruit tray?

hahahahaha! Just kidding.


This was before he was sickly and skinny. Isn’t he cute? He wore that Santa hat for most of the evening, until he said that it was too constricting and preventing him from eating more.


It looks like a ton, but please remember that this is only a tiny appetizer plate.

Everything tasted so good!


I tried to get some fun shots of ornaments and lights with my new camera lens, but my tiny tripod didn’t cooperate. I guess I’ll need to get one that can actually support the weight of a DSLR, huh?

Well, Ok. If you insist.


We bagged up some treats for our neighbors just a few nights after the Snack Table Party at our house. I made Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter Cookies and Pretzel Rolo Turtle Bites this year for our friends and loved ones in the neighborhood.

Hubby wanted me to make enough for the entire street in addition to our friends. Since I left this until Christmas Eve (unintentionally, I assure you!), I just couldn’t make that many in one night.

What a slacker. I hope to do it next year. When he isn’t sick in bed and can help, too!


Even without doing every single house on our street (twenty-six, to be exact), we still had about thirty goodie bags to deliver. We put them in this little iron basket for easy transport.

Sick Hubby drove while I knocked doors. He wouldn’t let me do it alone, but he certainly wasn’t feeling well enough to help, either! I tried (and failed) to get him to stay home in bed.


Inside the bags were cookies and bites. I wanted to do some Andes Mints Cookies, too, but knew that they would permeate everything else in the bag with mint flavor. So I refrained.

Who says that I don’t have any self-control when it comes to sweets?!


And these were a hit! I had several people say so when I saw them at church a few days later. I think it might become one of our traditional treats to hand out each year.

That is, if I don’t eat them all before they get wrapped up.

Hubby’s Family Christmas Snack Table was a success, and so were our neighbor gifts. We are slowly making our way to Christmas morning!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 Annual Family Christmas Snack Table

Christmas Invite 1 BLocked

The holidays just wouldn’t be magical in my family unless we all ate until we were sick on multiple occasions. And we have created a party to facilitate just such blissful agony.

It is called the Annual Family Christmas Snack Table.

I designed the invitation and sent them out a few weeks prior to the party night.

No one except me showed up in stretchy pants. That was awkward for a moment. Until they all regretted their decision when I out-ate them all.


I’m sure that this post won’t have nearly enough food to make us all sick, so let’s take a journey back in time to enjoy some past years of Christmas Snacking.

Snack Table 2009, with two very pregnant ladies. I was not one of them.
Snack Table 2010, or the year of the Forbidden Fruit Tray.
Snack Table 2011, or when I had to leave early for work. Are you kidding me?!

Phew! Now that you just had to loosen another hole on your belt, let’s move on to this year’s festivities!


It felt very different this year. Probably because my sister, her husband, and (now) two boys were in Texas for the event instead of gathering around the Snack Table in person with the rest of us.

They Skyped in for some of the fun, but it only made us wish that much more that they were there in person. I hope you know how missed you were, T’liese. We would have probably even temporarily allowed a Fruit Tray, too, if you had only been able to attend.

Should I be captioning these photos, too? I brought Peanut Butter Hershey Kiss Cookies seen up above, and these are Pretzel Turtle Bites.

Which are heavenly.

Which is why I ate them all made them, yo.


Please tell me that you’ve had Andes Mints Cookies. They are soft, chewy cookies that have Andes Mints placed on top just as they come out of the oven. After a few minutes of melting, the mint is swirled around to create a delicious, minty frosting.

I could eat a million of these little buggers. And I probably did, if you must know.


I went to three stores looking for the typical box of Christmas Andes Mints. Did they go out of business and not tell anyone? Finally, Target came through for me, but they were in the form of giant Andes Mints individually wrapped in plastic, not foil. Weird, huh?

So I broke them in half when it came time to “frost.”


I don’t know about you, but this looks like a party-about-happen to me!


I made Lemon Squeeze Cupcakes, which mean that I poured a sweet lemon glaze on top of lemon cupcakes to let things sink in a little. Then I frosted them with lemon cream cheese buttercream frosting.

Cupcakes make my heart go pitter-pat. Or didn’t you know?


I’m finally learning through lots of practice that sometimes, less is more. I don’t like cupcakes with frosting three feet high. I like just enough so that each bite has some frosting, but not so much that you can’t taste the cake!

Yep. I’m becoming a frosting snob!


But they turned out so pretty! And very, very edible, I assure you!


I decided to set aside a few chocolate chewy cookies from the Andes Mint Cookies recipe to make Homemade Oreos with them. With homemade buttercream frosting.

Because I was worried that I wasn’t bringing enough food. *snort*

I am tearing up just thinking about them now…


Aren’t these adorable?! After squishing the halves together, I rolled them in cute Christmas sprinkles to make them even more festive. They were almost too pretty to eat.



Wow. I would probably do some pretty awful things to have one of these cookies right about now.

How are all of your New Years resolutions going (nervous laugh)?!


So, after my oven could take no more abuse, we headed north towards my brother’s house for the Snack Table! First, we stopped to pick up my Dad on the way. We had enough time to open some presents, so I caught it all on camera.

He’s a handsome guy, huh?

I look like him.

But that’s not why I think he’s handsome. Sheesh! I don’t want to be a handsome guy!


And now I know where I get my opening-Christmas-presents intensity! Look at this excitement!

A few of his presents were things that he had suggested…like new, fancy drool-proof pillow cases. He is a tough one to buy for, that’s for dang sure. And he certainly doesn’t want anything!

Hmmm. Maybe we’re not related after all. I always want fun stuff!


Oh man. These pictures absolutely crack me up! Have I mentioned how nice it is to have my Dad back from Mexico?

Wait, that sounds bad. He was down there on purpose!

He lived there for seven years and moved back to Phoenix this past April to be closer to family.

It has been wonderful living in the same city as my Dad. That hasn’t happened since I was four years old! He’s a lot of fun, even though I don’t see him as much as I would like. (He is probably grateful for the lack of visits from me!)


He reads a ton, and one of my readers recommended that I give him this book (hi, Peter!). I also bought Dad a new stylus to use on his iPhone, since he lost his about one week after he got it back in May.

Obviously, he was pretty excited to get a new stylus. Probably as excited as I was to give it to him!


And this was probably my favorite picture of all…him posing like he was using the stylus in all its glory. He is so funny!

I’m glad that you’re home, Dad. I love you.


On to the Snack Table! We brought a dear family friend to the event this year. Here Don is prepping his shrimp cocktail that he brought.

It’s his first time…he didn’t know any better. I guess I’ll have to add that to the do-not-bring list next year.


Luckily, it was far enough away from the best thing at the party that I only gagged a few times. Shrimp = fish.

(I stained these cabinets, by the way).


So here is some of the spread. I say some because my Dad brought Chicken Tacos for his savory contribution to the evening. They were so good, but he was still setting them up on the entire back counter when I was taking these pictures. And then I forgot to get a picture of the tacos!

I was probably too distracted with stuffing my face later to remember to take a picture of it all. Oh, the memories.

You’ll just have to trust me, though. He brought incredible Chicken Tacos. He used your recipe, Charloe, and they were out of this world!


These are the Andes Mints Cookies just before being devoured. We always had these growing up at our Family Snack Table, so they just taste like Christmas to me.

And they taste like chocolaty, chewy, minty cookies, too. And that’s fine by me.


Everyone got a cupcake. Or six two.


And these didn’t last long, either. Not that I expected them to last long. Not with this crowd.

Have you seen how we can put food away in my family?!


This was another one of Dad’s contributions to the evening. How he still has candy from Halloween is beyond me (maybe we aren’t related), but I was personally glad that he decided to share it with the rest of us.


Pretzel Rolo Turtle Bites. Sweet, salty, crunchy, caramel. What more could you possibly want in a snackable dessert?


Here is Don, our wonderful family friend. He brought everyone poinsettias for Christmas…so thoughtful! We sure do love Don.


And I wish my brother would let me post pictures of his family, because I got some really good ones of them. I guess we’ll just have to finish the party with a picture of me and Hubby. Very full at this point in the evening.

But that’s the whole point of a Christmas Snack Table!

I am already planning the menu for next year’s event…

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Warning: Pretty Sunsets Ahead


After a quick lunch, it was time to head back to the airport to get rained upon profusely. Honestly, I’ve never seen such wetness here!

The normally-sunny California didn’t peek through the clouds once during this short overnight visit.


I guess one good thing came out of this bad weather…the usual thirty little airplanes using the runways for touch-and-go landings weren’t in full force today.

Only instrument-certified airplanes and pilots can enjoy life when the clouds are this low.


It was a little alarming at first to see so much water sitting on my pretty airplane. This is the engine cowling, but you probably already knew that.


Even covered in rain, Gladys is oh-so pretty. If I am being honest, it’s kind of fun to see her like this. We don’t get much rain in Arizona, after all, and she would probably be protected inside a hangar there anyway.

Don’t worry…in just a few short hours, these rain drops won’t be able to hang on for long. Not when your ground speed is over five-hundred knots on the short flight home!


Though the clouds weren’t quite as low as when we landed the day before, they were still pretty low. You can see them just behind this beautiful Falcon as he is landing on Runway 16R.


Now, back to the good stuff.


Gladys was drenched! Maybe it was a good thing in disguise, since it is certainly the cheapest way to wash an airplane!


Luckily, as soon as we get moving, these drops of water disappear from the windscreen and windows. It is so much easier to fly when you can see where you’re going!


I timed it perfectly to perform my preflight today. I waited for the rain to stop long enough to get Gladys fueled and looked over before our flight home this afternoon.

Since I am old brilliant, I accidentally left any semblance of a coat at home for this trip. Honestly, I had no idea that it could be so cold and rainy here!

So I waited for some respite from the clouds before getting her ready for the flight. Then I went back inside and watched it start to rain again!


This was one of the many Gulfstreams on the ramp today. This particular one is a Gulfstream V. You can tell that because it has seven windows, and the tail cone on the engine is painted rather than left chrome.

They are about to release the new drool-worthy G-650. It will make people cry when it comes out.

For all of your aircraft-identifying needs, aren’t you glad that you stopped by today?


Inside Gladys, it was nice and warm and dry. I had blankets ready to go, just in case.


And, in an attempt to save the carpet from wet shoes, I placed a towel down to catch excess water. It doesn’t look all that great, but neither do stains on my beautiful carpet.


This was a pretty shot of the clouds as they were temporarily not drenching me while gearing up for their next round of torture. I think that this picture displays how incredible nature truly is.


These blue skies were deceptive, as it began to rain again just shortly after I headed back inside the warmth of the FBO lobby. By the time we left, it was sprinkling.


This is my favorite picture of the day…sunburst action at its finest!


With two people in back, we made our way to the entrance of Runway 16R to wait our turn for takeoff. I enjoyed some pretty clouds on the ground while we waited for the traffic overhead to land at Burbank.


I know, I hate waiting for Burbank traffic, too. Why do those airliners get all the special treatment, anyway?


It was impossible to capture the incredible colors tonight, but this one came pretty close. Pink skies just above low clouds hugging the hills. Wowsers!


And being airborne only made the sunset that much better. Can it get any prettier than this?!


I love how you can see the Pacific Ocean in the far distance, but the sneaky rainclouds are covering all of the mountains as we climb into better skies.


Good night, Los Angeles! Please warm up before I come to visit you next time.


We must have been good luck to leave, since the storm clouds are now clearing towards the north of Los Angeles. I guess we brought this stuff with us today, huh?


There are no words for how beautiful a sunset is from the sky.

Best. Office. View. Ever.


Pictures are always enhanced when an airplane wing is thrown in. You’re welcome.


What a gorgeous night! We had a great flight home and got our passengers loaded and on their way before calling it a night.

Doesn’t this just make you want to go fly tonight?!

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