Tuesday, December 30, 2008

trading treats tuesday

Sorry about the bloggy silence this last week. I've been in a holiday induced stupor.

And that's my treat today: the Holidays!

PB&J is taking some time off. It's so nice to have him around without his Blackberry in his hands.

We have been getting our fair share of electronica in, however.
The other night, PB&J and I were out for dinner with friends. And suddenly I noticed I was paying attention to the background music and I was thinking to myself, "Yellow, yellow, yellow, green, yellow, green, orange, pedal, blue." Guitar Hero has been going non-stop for days now. There are few things quite as amusing as your little sweet, innocent, six-year-old singing Bon Jovi at the top of his lungs. However, PB&J and I will be glad when they get a little better at GH and we don't have to keep hearing Eye of the Tiger over and over and over.

The Christmas carnage isn't just limited to the soundwaves. It's everywhere.

The kitchen table is supporting all kinds of wildlife.
And Indian Jones Legos have taken over the floor in the Middle Carrotstick's room.
We haven't even started on the puzzles.

Luckily the good doctor didn't have a difficult time piecing together this: 7 stitches on the Littlest Carrotstick's cheek from a pre-snowmobiling slip on the ice.

Remember, it's all fun and games until somebody pokes out an eye -- or gets the side of his face smashed. Just ask PB&J's brother.

Love the Holidays. I don't think we'll ever be the same.


Hope your Holidays were as grueling enjoyable!



What's your treat today?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

merry christmas!


From all of us in the Lunch Room!


(this is my actual Christmas card, hand crafted by me and dear old Photoshop. But I feel like I should have put a disclaimer on the back: I did not cheat! This was really made by me!, 'cause I usually send out totally handmade cards to everyone. To help me feel better about myself, I stuck some ribbon and a brad on it.
To top it all off, I have even more angst 'cause I sent one to my brother and he's a Pixar wunderkind (yes, the real Pixar), and I know he would just pat me on the head and say "well, that's interesting . . . " if he were here and not in California.
But just know, I am sending it to YOU with all the love and good will in my heart. And that's all that matters, right?)



Merry Christmas!


I hope all your Christmas dreams come true!


(you know, peace on earth, good will to men -- that kind of stuff.
Not the new puppy, or the Corvette.
Remember, Christmas isn't about the stuff, it's about the Gift.)


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

trading treats tuesday

(on Tuesday, even!)

Dear Family,

I am sad that you are so far away.

You have missed out on all our fun traditional Christmas-time events. Especially the extended family parties, with no less than 113 of your closest relatives. Literally.

This one was significant because all my kids decided they are too old and mature to participate in the traditional Nativity. They wouldn't even be sheep this year. Sad.

But especially sad because You Were Missed.

And because I am missing you so much, you are my treat this Trading Treats Tuesday: La Familia! (it's more important sounding if you say it in a foreign language, but really, is spanish even a foreign language anymore? it's possible it's the U.S.of A.'s official second language.)

But, because I'm always looking out for you, and I don't want you to feel too homesick, here's a special part of Christmas that I know you've been missing:

Great-Grandma's robotronic story-telling Santa.

I pulled it out of storage just to make this video for you. (My kids didn't even know we had one. It's been lurking in the basement for about 5 years now. She gave it to us when she got tired of it. And I feel too guilty to give it to D.I. At least we didn't get the singing snowmen, too.)

video

Make sure you wait till the end to hear the best part -- "Ho ho ho, I love that story. . . . Let's read another one." It gets the little kids every. single. time. You HAVE to do what Santa says.

What's your treat today?

(And if you're related to me, it'd better be your super awesome oldest (and wisest) sister.)

iPillow

I'm feeling really ambitious. I am hoping to post TWO whole posts today! I know, hard to believe. I'm trying to make up for my slackerdom.


So, with Christmas just around the corner, here's one more great gift iDea for you. As you know, Apple has the cool gifts to give this year. In tribute to all things "i", presenting:
the very low tech iPillow.

Just please don't put one under my tree. The mere sight of those charts gives me ANXiETY.

iSpy-ed it here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

texting, one, two, three


Yesterday the Oldest Carrotstick was having a text conversation with her friend Michael Karr. Remember -- she always refers to all her friends by both their first and last names. I suppose that is better than when she called two of her friends "Brandon Three" and "Brandon Four." Oh, whoops. I must recant. She calls most of her friends by their full names, except Michael Karr's two BFFs. Those she calls The Followers or The Clones. Makes me think of Draco Malfoy and his two sidekicks. For some reason, they don't much care for those names. I can't imagine why.


Anyway. Back to the story. The Oldest Carrotstick and Michael Karr were texting. And it went something like this:


OC: Hey!

MK: Hey!

OC: Guess who we just saw

MK: I give up

OC: ur sister at Arby's

MK: O

OC: U look like her

MK: So ur saying I look like a girl?

OC: No

MK: Yah

OC: No

MK: Yah

(very interesting texts, right?)

OC: I think its cool u look like ur sister. I dont look like anyone in my family

MK: U look like ur mom

(stunned silence)

OC: do not

MK: do too

OC: do not

MK: do too

OC: so ur saying u think my mom is hott?

(stunned silence)

MK: no

OC: yah

MK: NO

OC: Yah!

MK: so ur saying I look like a girl?





And then I took the phone away, 'cause the Oldest Carrotstick was laughing hysterically, and I had to know why.





I used to like that Michael Karr kid.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

trading treats tuewednesday (again)

Ok. So I'm late on my post, again.

But I do have my neighbor gifts all assembled (sorry Kellye -- you're still getting one!) and my Christmas card and Christmas packages are, after waiting in line at the post office for 40 minutes, all in route. (Hurray!)

But that's not what I'm celebrating this week.

Today's Trading Treats TueWednesday is: Snow!

For weeks now the only snow I've had to enjoy was this:
This is my version of a Frozen Charlotte. What? You don't know what a Frozen Charlotte is? No, it's not some obscure band. Ok, well maybe. And no, it's not a drink or an ice cream treat. Read about it here, if you want.

But now we have this:
And I'm so glad. I would really like a White Christmas, to cover up all the yard ugliness.


And speaking of White Christmas, have you watched it yet this year? We did. On Sunday. And it was just like the good old days.




Not that I was around when White Christmas was made. My parents weren't even alive to have eyes for me to be a glimmer in. But I do have a soft spot for old movies -- especially in black and white. And if you've never seen Holiday Inn, might I recommend it to you?










My, but it's yar.










What's your treat today?

Monday, December 15, 2008

on golden chair


Once upon a time, there was a family with a mother who specialized in hare-brained ideas. One day, that mother was visiting the local Deseret Industries. And she found a wonderful vintage gold velour easy chair. It was SWEET! It swivelled and ROCKED (in both ways). But the mother didn’t buy it. It was ridiculous and there was no place in her house for it.

Time passed -- a week or so. The mother kept thinking about that chair. She also thought about Christmas and Christmas Cards. She visited a number of cool photography blogs. All of the sudden, she knew! She had to have that chair so she could have the coolest Christmas Card Picture EVER of her children. But she worried, in her heart, that fate would be against her, and that the gold velour chair would be gone -- as is the way with many things at the D.I.

With bated breath, she ventured back to D.I., dreading the harsh reality she was sure to find in the Large As-Is Furniture Aisle.

When, lo, what did she behold! The chair was still there! It was a sign. She had to have it. Quickly she caught the eye of a nearby Associate, secured a Sold sticker and arranged to pick it up later that evening -- just as a bevy of college-aged girls were eyeing it for their own.

It was fortunate, that at that time, the father of the family was away on his big hunt -- because the mother knew that the father would surely disapprove of the purchase of the chair. Unfortunately, along with his absence, came the absence of the truck which would have been ideal for hauling the chair home.

But the mother had a back up plan. You see, they were a family with too many cars. Yes, it’s true. They had more cars than they had drivers.

But each car had a special purpose and place in the family’s heart.

Take, for example, the mini-van (a relic from the days when the family thought they would have a large family – well, not an Full Sized Econo-van family, but a large-ish family.) But the years passed, the van was paid off, and the family finally realized they were really only a sedan sized family after all. And so it was that the family decided it was time to give up the dream -- and the perfect carpool vehicle – and sell it, so it could bless the lives of some other minivan-sized family.

With that in mind, the family did not renew the minivans registration when it expired in June.

A month passed, they had put off listing the van, and the mother of the family got a new church calling which would require hauling around large groups of giggling girls. The family reconsidered selling the minivan and kept it instead. But they forgot the expired registration.

And the oblivious mother took said van to D.I. and gleefully shoved the coveted chair into the backseat of the minivan.

As she drove home, still euphoric from the find, she chanced to notice flashing lights in her rearview mirror. With a pit in her stomach, she pulled over.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?" The cop asked, bating her.

Was she speeding? Had she neglected to signal? These questions flew through her mind. Instead she responded, falteringly, "No?"

"Do you realize your van’s registration expired THREE MONTHS ago? And that I can legally impound your vehicle?"

"No . . ." she said. But in her heart, the mother was protesting: "Come on!?!! Really??!! Don't you have anything better to do!!?!"

And so it was that the mother of the family, with spirits quite deflated, received a ticket and a summons to appear in court.

Suddenly that chair didn’t seem so golden anymore.

Thus the final cost of procuring the perfect chair for the perfect Christmas card picture became:


$25 chair
$35 safety and emissions
$120 registration
$10 on the spot registration fee, so I could avoid driving around any more than necessary with my illegal vehicle
$35 non-moving violation ticket
Ok - that’s $225, not $210 like I originally said.

The end.

And then there's the crazed old farmer that chased me, PB&J, and the kids off his property with a . . .

But that's a story for another day.

Ok, Kellye, what’s the story behind the most expensive frozen yogurt of all time?

i spy . . .

It's Monday, once again.

How's your Christmas shopping going?

Mine stinks. My friend had all her shopping done in October. OCTOBER! I am insanely jealous. But I will never have it that together, I'm afraid.

If you, like me, are stuck for eye-deas . . .

here's a little something I've had my EYE on.

(It's a Christmas tree ornament.)


You can get it

here, along with this: special (and versatile) little number.

Shocking, isn't it?

Just remember, this Christmas, I've got your back.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

priceless?

Oh, Photoshop, how I love you. You are worth your weight in gold.

I've been working on the Christmas Card this week.
Here are the two pictures I've been using Photoshop to mess around with.

Can you tell I had to get rid of a giant weed in front of the Oldest Carrotstick? I hope not.

Some day I'll tell you about the multiple run-ins with the Law and other authorities I had while trying to get these pictures. And how before it was done my $25 D.I. chair ended up costing me about $210.00.

And I'm not kidding.

They say a pictures is worth a million words. What do you think? It better be worth $210.

Which picture would you choose?

Friday, December 12, 2008

for nicki dear

Nicki,

Here is the recipe you requested. Now remember, it is a secret recipe. Don't tell anyone!

Supernatural Brownies

16 tablespoons butter
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped nuts (optional)



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Turn off heat. Set a heatproof bowl over water, and put butter and chocolate in bowl. Melt, stirring occasionally. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs. Add salt, sugars, and vanilla. Stir in chocolate and butter mixture. Fold in flour and nuts. Pour batter into a 9x13 pan that has been buttered/sprayed. (The recipe also suggests lining the pan with buttered parchment or foil.) Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

The top will form a shiny crust and the batter will be moderately firm. And you have to spend the money on the good chocolate, or it's just not the same.

Happy Baking!

brownie peanut butter cups

I know.

You've been in a dither all week, wondering how the progressive dinner went and what I made for dessert.

Let me just tell you, I availed myself of the opportunity to try a bunch of recipes from one of my favorite food porn blogs -- Bake or Break, and I baked.

And baked.

I used:

2 whole pounds of butter
18 eggs
and 11 ounces of cream cheese
And a bunch of flour and sugar, that sort of thing.


Knowing that, you know it had to be good -- in a very Paula Dean way, ya'll.

The one bad part?

I put one of the desserts (Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Squares) in my fridge downstairs and forgot about it.

And then I was going to take them to my Book Group Brunch today, and I forgot them again.

Either they don't think they want to be eaten, or it's a sign that they are horrible.

Anyway, here is the official dessert menu:

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Squares (almost)
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Blonde Brownies (only so-so)
Supernatural Brownies (so ultra yummy)
Raspberry Almond Tarts (ugly, but yummo -- even though my nephew said they tasted like Pop-Tarts. He can't help it. His Dad lives in Ketchup infamy.)
Lemon Bread (so good)
Pear Bread (surprisingly tasty)

and last, but not least:


Brownie Peanut Butter Cups (amazingly good, and impressive looking).
If my brother-in-law Bill were here, he would have taken a picture of the line-up. But he wasn't, and I forgot. (Bill is studying to be an attorney, but really he should be a food photographer. I think it is his calling in life.)

Here's the recipe for Good Food Friday:


Amaze Your Guests With Brownie Peanut Butter Cups


3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup peanut butter chips plus about 1/3 cup more for garnishing
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips plus about 1/3 cup more for garnishing
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter


Preheat oven to 350 . Spray or grease 12 muffin cups.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine sugar, butter, and water. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir in 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips until melted. Stir in egg and vanilla extract. Add flour and baking soda, stirring until blended. Allow to cool to room temperature. Then, stir in 1/2 cup each peanut butter chips and semi-sweet chocolate chips. Spoon batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into muffin cups.
Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out slightly wet. Place pan on wire rack. Centers of brownies will fall upon cooling. If not, tap centers with the back of a teaspoon to make a hole.
Place peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, then stir. While brownies are still hot, spoon about a tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of each brownie. Top with semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Cool completely in pan.



As I said, these look cool, but are surprisingly easy. And very rich and delicious. At least three of my nieces/nephews hid some of these in napkins and took them home with them.


And Jeanne, I would love you to share your yummy dessert with me! Please!
brownie picture by bake or break

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

trading treats tuewednesday

Yes I know. This is late. But I am having problems getting everything done.

My treat today: Old, but Good, Friends.


My good friend moved to Seattle several years ago. But right this second she is in Utah, and today she stopped by the house to say hi.


It was so great to see her. And I'm not just saying that 'cause she reads my blog. 'Cause she doesn't.


Visiting with her tonight was just like it was when she lived two houses away from me. It's nice to have friends like that -- where you can just pick up where you left off.


And she was very polite and listened to all three kids plunk away on the piano.


And,


And,


And . . .


She brought me yard waste for my front porch decorations!


Yard Waste? you ask.


Yes, yard waste. At least that's what people in Seattle have the audacity to call holly. 'Cause holly is just another shrub in Seattle. But here in the desert, it's a joyful holiday decoration.


Go ahead, you can sing it: "the holly and the ivy . . ." That is, if you know the words. Which I don't.

But, behold, my rusty red wagon:

Joyful, indeed!

And triumphant!




What's your treat today?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

incognito

once again, I'm looking out for you and the person-who-has-everything on your gift list.


how about this special little number:
for those times when you're feel especially wicked (not that I'm saying you're wicked, it just that sometimes, I know I have been known to laugh my evil laugh, and I'm always wishing I had a moustache to twirl at those moments and I'm just assuming other people feel the same. sometimes. but maybe I'm wrong. In that case see option #2.)


or


when you need to throw the paparazzi off your trail so you can grocery shop in peace.


or


perhaps you might just need a disguise.


secret agents might find it
here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

lumps of coal

This weekend PB&J's family is having a progressive dinner. We are the dessert -- 'cause we're sweet like that. But what should I serve? Do you have any suggestions? I'd love some input. You know my anxiety with serving food to others. . .

Anyway, though the food is the most important part, I have been working like mad trying to get all 10 of those bins emptied, so we don't look like Scrooges to the rest of the family. I finally got the last Christmas tree decorated yesterday.


Wanna see?


Here it is:


This is the tree in our little playhouse under the stairs.


Have I ever told you how much I love pom-poms?? And why is it that sticking a little tree in an urn makes it so much cuter?


What?


What's that?


You want to know why I went to the trouble to hang stockings on the mantel and decorate a tree for a playhouse that my kids don't play in anymore because they are too old for that sort of stuff?



Well.


I'll have you know . . .


Ummm . . .



That playhouse is an important part of . . .


It's a scientific fact that playtime is a . . .


Yeah.



So what if the boys never played in it and the Oldest Carrotstick is 13. I did it 'cause I wanted to. So there.



And just for your impertinence on Good Food Friday, you can have this:


Sassing the Lunch Lady Is Naughty (not Nice) Lumps of Coal


1 cup whipping cream
2 cups marshmallows
2/3 cup mint candy canes
1/4 c nuts (chopped)
2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs


Whip cream to stiff peaks. Mince marshmallows and candy canes in food processor or chop very fine. Fold marshmallows, candy cane, and nuts into whipped cream. Cover and freeze until mixture is firm. Scoop out balls and roll in cookie crumbs. Return to freezer until ready to serve.




Please, leave me your yummy dessert suggestions!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

trading treats tuesday

This is what my house looks like right now:


and:


This is when the holidays really come together.
The Thanksgiving dishes aren't quite put away.
And I have already drug out 10 bins of Christmas stuff.



Does that frighten you?




It kind of scares me.
And are you more worried that I am blogging instead of putting away my fabulous turkey dishes?



Take consolation in the fact that I am waiting for the kids to get home from school to decorate the tree.


And they decorated the trees in their rooms last night and I haven't rearranged a single ornament.






Yet.






I love the holidays!




And my piano is being tuned even as we speak and that fills me with joy. No more waking up to off-tune practicing!






What's your treat today?


Monday, December 1, 2008

garden of eatin'

because we are now officially counting down the days until Christmas,

I thought I'd share a little gift idea with you for those hard-to-shop-for-people.

For the person who has everything,


Introducing:


The Apple Cozy.

Tempting, isn't it?

Partake
here.


You can thank me later.