Monday, December 31, 2007

Pictures galore!

These are the ladies that Annie and I are spending NYE with - her sister Jen and our friends Karie and Michelle.

Tonight's dinner - Flying Pie Pizza. Yummmmmmmmmm

Annie's, Jen's, and Michelle's shoes :)

Most of the following are from the turkey dinner we made last night. For two holiday meals we got sent home with barely any leftovers, so we made our own and kept all the leftovers to ourselves.
A close up of my infamous World's Best Green Bean Casserole

Annie with the wishbone from our turkey. She's a silly goose.

Just a cute picture of a picture from our wedding, with the wine we drank last night.

Annie's plate - stuffing, taters, WBGBC, Yams, turkey, cranberry sauce. And wine.

The Wilson family cat, Pelly, in his tissue paper hiding spot at Christmas.

Yummy skin-on mashed taters from our dinner. Simple, with just butter and cream and a little salt.

Our turkey. It's not burnt, just well carmelized. I stuffed it with lemon and easy-peel tangerines and basted it with syrup. It was an experiment. Turned out pretty good, it was just the very outside that wasn't quite edible.

Annie carving the turkey

My WBGBC in its pan. I usually put it in another casserole dish for the final bake, but since I have the kind of pans that can go in the oven, I cheated. Annie burned her hand on it :(

The matching pic of Annie from the wedding.

The Cat in the Hat. This is our roommate, Shylent Cat, in the hat that I made for Annie but she didn't like so I kept for myself. No, it doesn't really fit like that, he just didn't put it all the way on.

Our pup Malakai eating a tangerine from inside the turkey.

Malakai being cute. No, that's not a muzzle on his nose. It's called a Gentle Leader.

Malakai waiting for some scraps. He didn't have to wait long.

Happy 2008!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Do you, uh, Swap?

I'm going on a new adventure and joining a Swap. I read about this one on Christina's blog, and since it's just starting I thought I'd join in. So here's my intro and wish list:

I've been crocheting on and off for several years, but the past year or so have really gotten into it. I've finished a few small things, like scarves and hats, and for this Christmas everyone in my family got dishcloths. I even did a stuffed bear - now THAT was an adventure. I'm excited about moving on to bigger things like ponchos, sweaters, afghans, etc, and trying out new yarns. You can only take so much worsted weight acrylic.

Wish List: Swap Swap Gals

Hobbies? Crocheting and other yarn-related stuff. I latch hook a little, when I'm feeling patient. I cook and love trying new recipes. Oh and I crochet. I watch way too much TV, but justify it by calling it crochet time :) And I'm a geek and spend too much time online. And did I mention crochet?

Crafts? Crochet, latch hook, knitting (I'm teaching myself, slowly but surely). If I had more time and space I would enjoy things like creating greeting cards, but scrapbooking is way too much for me. If I knew how to work my 70's era sewing machine I'd do that too :)

Favorite Colors? Purples & Greens, just about any shade. I like heathery colors too, especially dusky blues and dark reds. Not so much into pastels.

Favorite Animal? That's a tough one. I love dogs, especially puppies. Lately (ok, since Happy Feet came out) I've had a soft spot for penguins. And I've always liked big cats. Do gargoyles and faeries count as animals?

All Dislikes? Most chocolate candy (exception is below). I know, freakish. I'm not really into sweets in general. I don't like perfume much either. Or sappy romance novels. Or brussle sprouts.

Favorite Candies? The exception to my dislike for chocolate candy is Moonstruck Chocolate. When I die, bury me with a piece of Moonstruck in my mouth please. I like Pay Day bars too, and I'm game to try any non-chocolate candy. The other chocolate exception is hot cocoa. Oh, and things like Junior Mints, Peppermint Patties, etc.

Favorite Smell Goods? Vanilla and Lavender are tops, lime is very close behind. I also like spicy smells like pumpkin and chai, and coffee. Those are favorite flavors, along with smells.

Other things you may like or may not like? I'm a kid at heart sometimes. You might find me playing with play-doh or coloring in a color book. I also like brain puzzles like Sudoku and other puzzle-related things, but I'm not a fan of crossword puzzles. I like mystical things like faeries and gargoyles, and small things I can enjoy at my desk at work like desk-top zen gardens and cute magnets. I believe you can never have too much yarn, too many crochet hooks, or too many WIPs. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas, Part II

Well, all that's left is Mom & Grandma Sally!

Christmas Eve I was able to get off work 2 hours early. Went home and relaxed for a while, listened to Christmas tunes, goofed off, made some Curry Crab Dip, and headed to Jen's for the evening. Shylent (our roommate) joined us, and Matt (Annie's brother), and eventually Tim and Darin as well. Lots of food, good company, a few gifts to open (for those who weren't going to be around Christmas day), and one very late night. We didn't get out of there til about 11, but it was still a good time.

Christmas morning I got up early (but not as early as I should have) to get showered and dressed and start making the WBGBC (if you don't know what this is, you need to start reading my blog more often!). I used fresh green beans this time, which was much more time consuming but did create a nicer texture than frozen. We ended up leaving the house nearly an hour after we intended to, but it was alright. We stopped by Jen's to pick up some presents and food to transport out to Don & Nancy's, then had to drop Matt off at Jim & Cece's house (that's Annie's Dad and step-mom). Finally out to Sandy to Don & Nancy's... almost 11am and still none of us had gotten anything to eat! But once we got there and got settled, we got some food in our tummies and were all much happier.

Then the chaos began. 7 adults and 3 children's worth of presents to unwrap - and every one of us spoiled :) Gifts of note include Phantom of the Opera tickets for Annie and I, Bright red low-top Chuck Taylors for Annie, a bunch of kitchen stuff for me (including a mandoline, silicone baking cups, and pyrex custard cups), and of course dishcloths for both Jen & Carolyn's household and Don & Nancy's :) Nope, still no pictures.

The best part was that just before we started to open presents, it started to snow. Not inches, but enough that it accumulated on the ground. We got some pictures of that, and I'll upload them later today. After all the presents we relaxed for a while and then started to get dinner ready. Delicious, as always. I was a little heavy-handed with the garlic in the WBGBC but everyone enjoyed it anyway - even Don who is not a vegetable fan!

There was sad news in our day, though not for our family. I have a dear friend, Joey, who has been my favorite boi since high school. Her step-sister, Miracle, has also been a great friend though I haven't seen her recently. Miracle's father, Joey's step-father, was found dead of a heart attack (I believe?) on Christmas morning. Miracle, who has had several rough years since we all got out of school, is not an easy person to reach and I don't even know if she's heard about her dad yet. So if you have a moment, please say a little prayer for my friends, their mental/emotional/physical health and peace for them and their families.

Hope you all had a nice holiday - thank goodness it only happens once a year!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas - half way there

Well we're about half way through the Christmas celebrations, and things are going well so far!

Saturday night we went with Jen & the Wubsters to see Maryann & Don (Annie's paternal aunt & uncle) and Grandma Holly (paternal grandmother). On the way out there, we all sang Christmas carols. Got a fine rendition of Jingle Bells from Rhionna (Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, jingles all the way! Oh what fun it is to ride in a once open sleigh, HEY!) and Santa Claus is Coming to Town from the hit group, Tootie and the Wubsters (aka all three girls). I've got recordings on my phone, so if I can figure out how I'll post them.
*UPDATE!* I did figure out how to get it from the phone to the computer. Rhi's version of Jingle Bells is here. It's late and I'm going to bed but I'll upload the other one tomorrow or Wednesday.

Maryann enjoyed her dishcloths (nope, we didn't get pictures of hers), and Annie and I will certainly enjoy the goodie bag we got from them that had a mixed bag of regular popcorn, cheese popcorn, and caramel corn, a bag of cheesy poofs, and a box of almond toffee chocolate. It was really good to see Grandma Holly, though she's not in the best health and will be starting dialysis soon (hopefully after the holidays). And Maryann made her famous (to us at least) manacotti - YUM!

Sunday morning we went to the Bridge and I spent the time trying to finish up Dad's Amigurumi Dancing Bear ala Grateful Dead. I ended up finishing it at his house before dinner, and no, we didn't get pictures of that either. Anyway, sang some Christmas carols at the Bridge (Annie was not impressed) and got to hear three amazing people talk, and best of all got a free turkey out of the deal.

Sunday afternoon we went to Do Jump! with Dad & Marcella. Think Cirque du Soleil meets a sidewalk carnival meets a toned-down version of Stomp. It was neat! Lots of gymnastics and acrobatics, juggling, dancing, etc. Very cool. We then headed to Dad's for dinner and gift exchange. Dinner was a hit as always (lamb shanks and roasted artichokes with olive oil & balsamic vinegar) and the gift exchange was great too! I think Dad liked his bear, and Marcella liked the dishcloths we gave them. I got this fabulous page-a-day calendar, a new desk fan (yay!), a beautiful Zebrawood and Maple cribbage board with brass and steel (I think?) pegs, and a new gargoyle. Annie scored with a flexible tripod and a frosted glass bowl that matches one we got as a wedding gift.

Next up is Christmas Eve at Jen's tonight, with the gang plus Shylent and Matt (Annie's brother). Appetizer potluck including Curry Crab dip (drool!!). Tomorrow we'll head out to Nancy and Don's (maternal aunt & uncle) with Jen, Carolyn and the Wubsters, which I think Shylent is also joining us for. That will be an all-day adventure with brunch, presents, relaxing, then dinner (gotta love food!). I will once again be making The World's Best Green Bean Casserole, which I highly suggest you try if you haven't yet. It's not as hard as it looks and it's delicious!

Past that, the only Christmas left is with Mom and Grandma Sally. I am so thankful that they don't fuss about whether we get together ON Christmas, or only near it. Rumor is we'll be going to Chang's Mongolian Grill for our Christmas dinner - gotta love it!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The best things in life are simple

Annie made dinner tonight :) She doesn't cook super often, but when she does it's GOOOOD!

She bought some hunks of pork at WinCo. I wasn't so sure about them, because they didn't look like much in the package. But she bought some Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce, marinated them overnight, and took my advice when I suggested she cook them low (275 actually) for a few hours (I think they ended up being in there for about 3 hours). When they hit 180 we turned off the oven and let them sit until the rest of dinner (rice and some baked beans) were done.

This is what was left after we all filled our plates:

Dessert was a score from the office Christmas party and gift exchange we had today. I scored some AWESOME homemade cookies from Carol. They're the best - legendary in the office. Also pictured are some ornaments that our boss gave us. The two on the left are glass teardrop-type ornaments, and on the right is a rainbow colored mini disco ball.

I know, the pictures are crap. I took them with my cell phone. Maybe someone will buy me a point-and-shoot camera for Christmas :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Where have I been?

Well, busy.

I've got nearly all of the gifts made that I need to have done, with still a week to go. I've started another project which of course is a gift for someone else so I can't talk about it. Suffice it to say that I've taught myself Filet Crochet, and it's not nearly as scary as I thought it would be.

We've been watching mass quantities of TV at home, too. Thank goodness for whole commercial-free seasons on DVD available from the library! Shylent and Annie have got me hooked on Grey's Anatomy (finished season 1, working on season 2), plus I've got Law & Order (season 3), House, M.D. (season 2), Frasier (season 7), South Park (season 5), and L&O SVU (seasons 1-3 and 5). Oh and I just yesterday finished season 1 of the American version of Whose Line Is it Anyway. That's some funny shit right there.

After the holiday I'll post some pictures of my Christmas Crafts, and the December installment of my Yarn of the Month Club review (better late than never, right?). Plus a couple of dishcloth patterns I've come up with.

Oh and today I got a big fat raise. I'm not supposed to tell anyone, according to my boss. But it's my raise and I'll gloat if I want to! I got a 7.5% increase, not merit-based. Plus next month is my review and I'll get my merit increase on top of it all. So HA!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Friends Christmas

(I drafted this post on the 10th but I guess I didn't get around to finishing it. Huh. Well here it is)

Last night was the Mag 7 8 Holiday Gathering. Every year, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we get together to have dinner, exchange gifts, and swap stories about years past. This year (and last) it was hosted by Michelle & Aaron (and Tara the dog). It's a drive, but they have a really cozy home (and a fancy new wrap-around deck) and Michelle makes a mean turkey.

We all bring a dish and a beverage (I brought this amazing Green Bean Casserole and some hard cider, Annie brought Yams with a Twist and Key Lime Martinis), and a gift for our not-so-secret Secret Santa exchange. I made Karie, who has a thing for lips, a plastic canvas wall-art of lips with her initials on it. It was my first attempt at plastic canvas, and I did pretty well (so long as she doesn't take it out of the frame and see what a mess of knots the back is). Darin got me some lotion, body spray, candles, and really pretty candle holders. Annie got a book for her new Mac (The Missing Manual) and gave Tim an Amazon gift certificate and some Martini wall art.

We watched Jeff Dunham and everyone but Tim laughed their butts off. Oh and it snowed! Not enough to stick but enough to see falling from the sky. To me, that's the best part of the holidays. Sitting around with good friends, eating, laughing, and reminiscing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

For those of you unfamiliar with Our Fair City...

I submit this comprehensive article about Portland.

How could you NOT want to live here?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Weekend Re-Cap: A ~*Hoodlum*~ Adventure

Friday night ended with the threat of snow on what was supposed to be our day trip to Eugene. Why Eugene? Well because that's where you get Chocolate Milk From Chocolate Cows.

Saturday morning Annie - who had spent most of the past 48 hours in bed with a respiratory something-or-other - had to go out to Beaverton for a dentist appointment. Since she was feeling so crummy, I went with her. No snow on the ground, but while I sat in the waiting room reading Reader's Digest the flakes started falling. They built up a little, but not enough to get in a fuss over. Not even enough for the news stations to break into their regularly scheduled infomercials to report on "Storm 2007." By the time we got done at the dentist, Annie was feeling well enough to give the go-ahead for our Eugene trip, so we packed up ourselves, Shylent, and Rufus the ferret and headed out.

Oh, and did I mention that the Civil War was this weekend? Thousands of football-crazed maniacs were due to flood Eugene to watch OSU and UO battle it out in the mud.

Before we could head south we had to drop off some equipment with one of Annie's classmates, who lives in Gresham. Innocently (or maybe not) I suggested that we meet half-way on 122nd & Stark. Well that also happens to be where Fabric Depot is. Like I said, maybe not so innocent. So while Annie and Shylent - and Rufus of course - waited in the car, I ran into FD to scope out some yarn. Ended up getting some LB Microspun to work on a project for Annie (she wants crochet sushi), some TLC Amore just to play with (it's turning into a scarf for myself) and some Christmas-sy yarn for one of my Christmas projects.

Thankfully by the time we got on the road, most of the crazed fans were well into their tailgate parties and traffic was light. It was even mostly dry until we hit Junction City (right about the time I texted Mom to tell her it was dry... sure, make a liar out of me).

First stop in Eugene was our favorite burrito joint on 5th & Blair. It's such a hole-in-the-wall that it's not listed in the YP. Ginormous burritos though, smothered in sauce and cheese and totally to die for. Annie even told the guy that we drove all the way from Portland just for the burritos. Not quite true, but true enough!

Our next goal was to find Shylent's friend FerretMike. We took Rufus down there so that he could bunk with Mike's ferret, Bug, for a while. Only problem though, we didn't have a phone number or address for Mike, so it was going to be a hit-and-miss adventure trying to find him. Our first attempt was at the Eugene Holiday Market, which is just like Saturday Market but goes indoors when the weather chills. We wandered around for a little while, saw some neat things but nothing we couldn't live without. No sign of Mike though, and no luck asking around. We headed down to the neighborhood that Shylent and I used to live, drove around a little hoping to spot Mike's van or motorcyle and actually did! The whole small world thing really comes in handy sometimes. While Shylent went inside with Mike to get Rufus settled, Annie and I sat out in the car - me crocheting and Annie surfing on some found wifi - and it dawned on me... Eugene is full of hippies! I bet they have some neato yarn shops!!

So we left Shylent and made our way (thank goodness for some of the net service I get on my cell phone) to a place called Soft Horizons Fibre, located in a cute little house and packed to the rafters with yarn of all sorts. After talking to a sales person (who was a knitter, but God love her anyway) I picked up a couple of hanks of some 100% Merino Wool in what I'm pretty sure is fingering weight (it's not so well labeled, so it might be sport weight, but I don't think so). The goal was to pick something up to make a pair of socks with, and according to the pattern I was looking at (found in a book at the shop... a book I didn't end up buying) 300 yards would be enough. So I got a total of 350. It's beautiful, all purple-ish colors. Pictures later. When I got home I discovered that all of the sock patterns I see online call for more than what I bought. So I've started inquiring about the availability of the same brand here in town. I don't even care if it's the same color scheme or not.

Anyways, back to pick up Shylent and then we had dinner with FerretMike and our friend Jamie, who I hadn't seen for years. Neat little cafe that had a little bit of everything and served whatever you wanted - breakfast lunch or dinner - regardless of what time it was. The food was just so-so and the coffee wasn't that great, but we had a good time catching up with old friends. By the time we left it was pouring down rain and we still had one more stop to make before heading home! Dari-Mart! We had to get our Chocolate Milk from Chocolate Cows!

If you've never had the chocolate milk from Dari Mart, you're missing out. It doesn't separate, doesn't require shaking, and doesn't get that yucky chocolate buildup on the bottom of the container. Dari Mart also carries the best egg nog you'll get without making it yourself. When people know we're going, they send us with their orders! We ended up leaving with a dozen half-gallon containers. Got lots of funny looks from the cashier and the other customers. But it was fun anyway, and well worth it!

The drive home was rainy, dark, and did I mention rainy? But we made it home in one piece and only 3 hours later than we expected to!

Self-Doubt in the Face of Do-Gooding

Why do we do good? Why do we help others? Is it to make ourselves feel better, more important, etc?

This weekend I gave HomePDX some donations that we'd collected for them at work. Blankets, socks, etc, and some cash. I thought it would be neat to hand it over to someone from Home at the Bridge, but now I'm questioning that decision. Maybe I should have just had Annie take me downtown to deliver it straight to them.

I really just wanted to do something good for them. I know they're in need and I thought I could help. Now I'm questioning my motives. Did I just want to make myself feel important? Did it seem like I was just trying to get the most appreciation for my time?