Family Christmas Countdown

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Day

Happy New Years everyone!
We love you all. Alicia & Justin

Sledding Pictures

I am eventually going to upload our sledding pictures to our blog - but figured you might want to see them. Check out this link here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=11964&l=94547&id=1352962459

Pictures of our Christmas festivities

Christmas Eve:

For the last several years we have spent Christmas Eve with our good friends the Springers. They like to be home for Christmas so we have made a tradition of having dinner together the night before. We have stuck with my family's Mexican dinner theme and had different tasty Mexican meals over the years. This year we had our own Cafe Rio type burritos, chips and dips from Chili's, and peppermint pie for dessert. I also made these for the kids to eat for dessert (they were so messy though that I didn't take a picture....it was too embarrassing).

In the past we have had a pinata - but we decided to skip it this year. Cory always spends SOOOO much money filling the pinata (last year it was FULL of chocolate!) and we all eat way too much. So this year we decided to skip it. I was a bit sad as we've done a pinata every year since I was little. Then we let the kids open a present - our boys got jammies. It was late so we drove around to see a few Christmas lights and came home. The boys got in their new jammies and got to open another present. The last couple of years I've been adding to our Christmas book collection. I want to give them a nice Christmas book each year with their new jammies. But this year, as with most everything, we cut back a little and I just got them little books from Walmart. They didn't know the difference and had fun with it. We made Santa up a plate of goodies and wrote him a letter - you'll have to read the letter - it's word for word what Gabe told me to write. Then after reading the Christmas story (Gabe loves the fact that the angel that visited Mary is named Gabriel - he thinks that is pretty great) we tucked the kids in bed and got busy with Santa stuff.





Christmas Morning:

Cory is just like a little kid with Christmas morning. Anytime after 6:00 am is fair game. So I think around 7:30 we were up and at it. When Gabe came out he was a bit disappointed that Santa didn't bring him the Geotrax stuff he wanted - but he got over that pretty quickly when he saw all of the cherry candycanes Santa brought! We always have our stockings first, check out the tree and what Santa brought. Then we'll take a break for breakfast before we do more presents. This year we made cinnamon rolls (from a can - blasphemous huh Tammy?) - but Cory was in charge of them, and they didn't quite get cooked enough.....but we ate them and some cheesy scrambled eggs. After breakfast it was time for presents. Gabe had a ball this year and was much more into it than ever before. We tried to stretch it out (since we didn't have any other plans for the day or people to visit) - but we got done pretty quickly. The boys loved their presents and my favorite thing to hear was when Gabe would open something and yell, "That is exactly what I've always wanted!!!" Gabe was pretty sure that he was going to get a Geotrax Barn and when he opened that very last he was thrilled that he got everything he asked for.

We snacked on food during the day, took it easy, cleaned up (Cory likes all of the Christmas goodies put away immediately), talked to family on the phone, watched a few movies and just hung out. It was a really kicked back and relaxing day - and we loved it. We missed seeing family more than normal, but we felt their love and know that another year we can spend together.

My traditional pre new-years festivities

It's 12:50AM, I just got home of the last BART train from the city. I went with my SIL Linda and nephew Dan to a Phil Lesh and Friends/Bob Wier and Ratdogs double concert. It reminds me of all those pre-New Year shows for the Grateful Dead for years and years. It's easier now--the venues are smaller, and the crowds are smaller, and you don't have to stand on line for so long in the cold. But it's still fun. Susan is always relieved when I find someone else to go with--it's too loud and noisy and crowded for her. But I love it. I love the music, the songs, the mellow crowd, the sense of hope and joy that I always get. It's painful to leave when they will probably play music for another hour, but that's the price of taking BART instead of hassling with driving and parking. Good choice, but painful.

Then tomorrow we will go to our annual brunch with a group of friends, and then we stay home on NYEve usually.

May the new year bring each of you renewed dreams, new love and wisdom, and many many moments of joy. Love to you, Sandra

Monday, December 29, 2008

I am still enjoying all my Christmas gifts, letters and those of you I got to hug.The 12 days of Christmas were so much fun. Knowing you guys, I half expected a Partridge in a pear tree to show up. I had a blast with the antlers. All my friends are anticipating New Years eve noise makers.

I thank each and every one for your thoughtfulness as each gift was just the right one.The gift certificates and cash are wonderful too as it gives me choices.

The photos I love too as they keep me cheerful and feeling warm hearted. Phone calls all added to a great Christmas.

I have never seen so much cold and snow as we have this year. I was feeling down about the cold and snow and remembered I would go to temple square and under neath the snow were pansies just waiting for the snow to leave so they could do their thing.

lOVE GRANDMA MARILYN

Labels:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Great Christmas trip to Monterey

We had a great trip to Monterey. Of course, we forgot to take the camera (or the binaculars!!!), so there's no pix. Sorry. The weather was beautiful and sunny. Christmas day was really windy, but yesterday and today were perfect. We didn't leave the house til about 1:30 or 2 on christmas day, so we mostly just drove down there, but got to our hotel in the dunes before sunset so that was nice. We had packed a little dinner and ate it in our room with the wind howling outside and the fire sparkling in the room. The next morning we ordered the breakfast basket and sat in bed looking out at the ocean and eating fruit, muffins, youghurt, etc. (we passed on the sugar frosted flakes). we went out to the beach for a little while and then spent the day in the Monterey Aquarium. My favorites were the otters and the jelly fish and the wonderful little pink and orange corals and anemones that live in the deep ocean. We went on a "behind the scenes tour" that was interesting. Then we went out to dinner at the wharf (Dungeness crab cocktails, then we shared a platter with a baked crab, scallops, and shrimp) and found our cheaper hotel. This morning we got up and went to Point Lobos, down below Carmel. It was just gorgeous to hike along the bluffs, climb down on the rocks, watch the otters and seals in the aquamarine coves, etc. We had a great morning. Then we drove along the coast and had lunch in Capitola, a little town I had always been curious about. We bought a new silk hanging lantern to hang over our TV in the living room. And then we came home, took a short nap, and went to the store to buy the fixings for tomorrow. It's Betty (my mother in law)'s birthday, and when we were discussing which restaurant to take her to at Christmas, we ended up volunteering to host a simple family get together. We are having vegetarian chili and cold cuts.

Then on Tuesday I am going with Linda and Dan to a Grateful-Dead type concert in the city, and Wednesday we have our annual NYEve Day lunch with some old friends. Whish before we know it it will be Jan. 5.

Much love to you all, Sandra

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

It's snowing today, which I think is fantastic for my only day off during Christmas break. Justin and I are working all day everyday, except today, out at the tubing hill. We have 3 "kids" although they're not really kids, working for us, and they are doing a great job, they're all hard workers. So today we're just enjoying a quiet day. Pretty quick I'm going to make some eggnog to go with the cinnamon rolls. Mom mentioned on her blog that we've abandoned some traditions this year, but one that I just could not let go was the Christmas morning cinnamon roll/eggnog breakfast. mmmmmm. Dad made the dough for me, while I was at the tubing hill working yesterday, so then when I came home all I had to do was the finish up work. I appreciated that very much. I'm trying to decide what I should make now to take to the dinner, dad and mom made pies, and a blueberry thing (yummy no bake cheesecake type thing). I'm thinking chocolate pie, but not sure if that's what we'll do.

We opened our presents last night, as usual. It was really fun. We just had a few things. Justin made me the most beautiful jewelry box out of maple, with brass hardware. Then he carved on it, and engraved it with my name, and when it was given and everything. I'll take a bunch of pics, and post them later. And he got me a pink .22 rifle. Its so cute! Its a bright pink, lever action, single shot rifle, and its the cutest thing. Its made by the "Davy Crickett" company, so cute. Its even got a little cricket on the butt of it. Mom and dad got me a couple of cookbooks, and they got us the second Chronicles of Narnia movie. Blake gave us some great truffles, and a game for out Wii. It was really nice. After we opened presents we were watching TV, and there was a show with some classic tractors, and we sat around talking and sharing stories for about an hour, it was really wonderful to just sit and enjoy each other's company - wish we could have that opportunity with everyone, but since we can't, the blog makes a nice substitute.

Well, I better go make eggnog, I'm starving. Merry Christmas everyone. We love you all very much, and hope you have a wonderful day! Love Alicia and Justin

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve in Alaska

It is late. Judy Garland is singing "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in St. Louis. The children are all nestled snug in their bed and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Pa isn't in his cap or his kerchief, but he is in bed and wouldn't hear a clatter if it hit him in the head...

We had a lovely ham dinner with twice baked potatoes, deviled eggs, whole wheat rolls. It seems like there was more than that but I can't remember and we all got so full we didn't eat any of the desserts (until now, I'm sampling the pies).

We had lots of breaks with tradition this year. Usually we have a breakfast for Christmas Eve but this year we had a wonderful ham dinner instead. (It was a whole, bone in ham with GREAT flavor, and Brian put water in the bottom of the pan and the meat was so soft and juicy. I have to say it was the best ham I've ever eaten.)

A friend at church loves to make whole wheat bread and she and Brian go back and forth on storing and grinding and using wheat - it's a huge, long-standing joke between them and half the ward. Anyway, this summer, we finally bought a bit of wheat and I forgot that I had bought a little hand operated mill. a couple weeks ago, Brian decided we better get a wheat mill (BOTH of us forgot we had bought the small hand mill) and he ordered an electric mill that should be here any day.

So our friend brought Brian a loaf of her wonderful whole wheat bread last week as a congratulations gift for his breaking down and getting a grain mill. It was so good we decided to try to make whole wheat rolls for our dinner. Brian was a trooper and ground the wheat in the little hand mill. He says it will have to be some heck of an emergency before we use that mill as our daily flour grinder... but he got enough to make the dough. He is a master of making bread dough in our bread maker. We wore out 2 other bread makers, but this one has a faulty bake cycle so we don't use it very often, but it is great for making dough and he makes wonderful dough combinations in it. So he made the dough and then I used my brand new Pampered Chef 13 x 9 inch pan which I bought specifically to bake rolls in. They turned out PERFECT.

sometimes when you go to a party or a demo and see a product and get sold on it and them come home and are so disappointed. Well, I am not disappointed in this pan at all. The rolls come out completely and more importantly, the pan has even heat, so all the rolls are the perfect amount of doneness. The glass pan I have used for 30 years has hard rolls on the outside and doughy ones in the middle... and I hate that. So I am happy as a clam with this purchase.

So the kids are exhausted. They have been working 14 hour days, 7 days a week - and of course the tubing business is very physical and outside in the cold and wind a lot which is so tiring. They got home around 6:00 and we had dinner mostly ready. Alicia thru some finishing touches on the eggs and finished the potatoes. Justin set the table. Before they came home, Brian had started a sweet dough in the machine for Alicia to make into the Christmas morning roll and she thru that together before we ate and it rose during dinner and the presents.

The other break with tradition is that Christmas day we are having dinner at the inn. We never leave home on Christmas day - at least we haven't for about 20 years. They are cooking prime rib and all our friends from church are coming and doing potluck again. We have dessert duty again. Brian made pies and we worked together to make a blueberry cheesecake dessert kind of thing. We will make some more stuff in the morning, I'm sure.

It was fun for Brian and I to work together in the kitchen again. We paced it out all day and built in rest periods and finally I had Brian bring my walker in so I could sit and work at some tasks, like peeling eggs and chopping potatoes. So much of the work and cooking that I used to do has fallen on him and he never complains and I really appreciate him taking over and it was very nice to be able to work together.

We had a lovely evening and we are thinking of you all. It was a humble Christmas in our house - more love that money was spent, but we are learning to like that kind of Christmas better. We are so grateful to be celebrating the greatest gift of all - the gift of a Savior who was born to redeem us, to pay for our sins, and to save us all. There isn't a better gift around than that...

HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL. Love, Charlotte

Christmas eve in the rain

We are bundling up for the hr drive to Linda's house in Castro Valley (where Susan's sister lives) for Christmas eve Indonesian saute and gifts. It's raining, but that's a good thing--we need the rain. It might clear tomorrow afternoon, which would mean that we will have partly sunny skies for our two days in Monterey. Hope springs eternal. The leaves on the bottom third of my ginko tree have STILL not fallen off-- an all time record, I think.

I am carrying you all in my heart and wishing you a lovely holiday period and a new year full of opportunity, love, joy, laughter, and new learning.

And I have a special prayer for my mom, spending her first Christmas at the Villa.

Love and joy, Sandra and Susan

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas in Texas.

Well, I'm about to leave work today, and thought I'd spend a second to post some things about our Christmas season so far.

First off, I am sorry that I've been behind on posting much of anything on this blog. I have been so busy with work, and then with freelance work after work. It seems that the freelance projects never come at convenient times for me, but who can say no to paying jobs in today's economy? I know I have a hard time doing so. I finished my freelance work this last monday, and today is my last day at work until the 5th.

I look forward to taking off from work for a week and a half, and spending some time with the girls.

Before I got seriously busy at work I was taking a flash design class to learn some more about website design, and although I've forgotten much of what I learned already, I worked with a coworker to make a short online Christmas card for our family. Paste or type the following link into your web browser to see the card.

http://rhiens.com/Welcome.html

Laura's Dad got into town yesterday, and we are happy to have him staying with us this Christmas. I will probably make some Borscht tomorrow, and we still need to go get a Christmas piniata to break with the girls on Christmas day. Lucky for us, there is a mexican party store just down the road a little that has some sweet looking piniatas.

Laura has planned a turkey dinner for Christmas day itself, and we look forward to going to see a huge toy train exhibit that we saw last year.

We had a very nice weekend spending time with some friends for a waffle brunch on Saturday, and for an early Christmas diner on Sunday with some other friends. It was very nice to have some time with our friends (now that we've moved, they live about 15 minutes from where we do, and we don't see each other as often.

We hope you are all enjoying the season. We hope you all stay safe and warm. We wish that for this one week, we could have a little snow, but alas, this is Dallas we are speaking of. We only get 33 degree rain, and there's plenty of that to go around this week.

We love you all, and hope you are all having a great Christmas season.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Seeing Santa (for the 3rd time...)









Saturday was our ward's children's Christmas party - Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The night before we were out with friends when we remembered that we were supposed to go the next morning. We talked about it and 8:00 am for a Saturday seemed to be REALLY early - especially with the kids.

Unfortunately (for me) - I was WIDE awake at 5:00 am Saturday morning. That seemed like it was going to work well because we could go (I'm generally the one who takes the longest to get ready, and I'm also the one who wants to sleep in more than anyone else) - but the boys both decided to sleep in until almost 8:30. Once they were up we decided to run into the party before it was over. We made it in time for Santa - but didn't get much to eat (which was ok).
Gabe was SO cute with Santa. He wasn't nearly as nervous as he had been the first time this season (where he was SHAKING and totally speechless) and was excited to talk to Santa. When Santa asked him who his favorite reindeer was he piped up "Rudolph - and I even know a song about him!" So he sang with Santa and it was so cute. Hunter wasn't jumping up and down to get in Santa's lap, but he sat with me next to Santa and didn't even cry when I put him on Santa's lap. We're making progress!

College Football Game

For those of you not tapping in every day, let me update you on the College Football Bowl Game contest.

Paul: 47 points 2 out of 4
Alicia 4 points 2 out of 4
Brian 4 points 2 out of 4
Blake 2 points 1 out of 4

Charlotte - the college football addict who watches EVERY single college football game no matter who is playing: 0 points. 0 out of 4.

ZERO out of four. Nada. Not ONE single game right so far. #^&!??*$*$)##__)($((*$@@

Sorry for my French. I just don't get it. I hope this pattern doesn't continue into March Madness.

(oh, yeah, I also picked Tebow to win the Heismann)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dec. 20

Happy Birthday Earlene ! ! ! !

Friday, December 19, 2008

Candy Cane Cookies







Now most years I haven't made these cookies - because I can't seem to master them like my mom has. I'm one of those people who want things to turn out great the first time around, and don't like to work at them (for instance - when I started gymnastics I was pretty ticked on the first day when they didn't teach me how to do a back handspring - what a waste of a lesson!)

Anyway - this is probably the 3rd time I've made these. This year I was feeling extra nostalgic and wanting to work on passing on traditions from my childhood to my children. As I looked through a Christmas cookbook that Mama Rhien put together for us I saw the Candy Cane Cookie recipe and thought the idea of making cookies for my kids that my grandma had made for her kids was pretty cool.
After I made them I called my mom to talk about things I coudl have done differently, found out that hers haven't always been perfect, and laugh. She mentioned that Nicole had made these recently and had made them skinnier than my mom makes them, but that Paul had said they turned out. She said, "I don't know how she did it - she made 4 dozen cookies from the recipe". So I counted my cookies.

19 cookies.
Apparently mine were a bit 'chubby', Nicole's were a bit 'skinny' and I bet when my mom makes them later this week - they'll be 'JUST RIGHT'.

Anyway - here are our cookies. I had to take picture of the broken ones and the ones that (all-be-it chubby) turned out.

(Side note - as I ate one I thought, "Wait a minute - I don't even LOVE how these taste - why go to all this work?" I guess it's all about the tradition.)

Christmas is...











Here are just a few of the sights of Christmas found around our house this time of year. Hope you are all enjoying the season. We love each of you and enjoy sharing this holiday blog. I just wish it would all slow down a bit so that we could savor and enjoy it more.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pig and a Goldfish

here's our stockings, with my new tree stocking holders. I've been scoping out holders like this for over a year now, and found these for 75% off - $4! I was excited.
See my half painted wall? We had a counter here, but took it out for the entertainment center (see below). Not the furniture I wanted, but also not $800! :) I had to compromise the one I wanted, for the one I could afford. At least its better than what was there!


Some of the nutcrackers. A couple more are on a side table

We got our tree done today. Our house has been in a state of chaos and mess for a while now, and we kept talking about putting up a tree, and just couldn't take the idea of one more mess to look at or make. So we put it off, and put it off, and then finally we just buckled up, and did some projects we'd been putting off, and cleaned some stuff up, and put some stuff away (sort of, does stuffing it in a closet like area count?) and I said I HAVE to have a tree. So we got our entertainment center set up (We took the dresser from my old bedroom and took it downstairs, and converted it to an entertainment center - works beauty!). And then we were going to get a real tree, but we didn't want it dumping its needles down the back of our tv and our new entertainment center. So I asked Justin to stop at the all purpose store in town and get a short fake tree ($18). Its so cute!! I can't wait to use it for years to come as a second "fun" tree when we have more space. It's a cute tree. My new ornaments for this year were a little glass pig, and a glass gold fish, because the idea of a goldfish on a Christmas tree just made me laugh, same with the pig. So here's our tree for the year. And even as tiny as this tree is - I got most of the ornaments on anyway! Pretty cool.

Bowl Games Start on Saturday

For those participating in the bowl game challenge, don't forget to put in your picks by Saturday morning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sorry - check out my blog

Sorry I haven't posted our holiday stuff here. I am trying to figure out a way to post on both blogs without having to type it all out twice. So until I get my act together - check out the posts on our blog:

Gingerbread houses

Things we've been doing this holiday seasonLink

Caramel Corn

Gabe's Christmas Carols

Now I'm off to make MORE caramel corn....

Monday, December 15, 2008

It looks a lot Like Christmas here. Great decorations, some outstanding music and the 12 days of Christmas!!Wow! I love it. I am feeling great and having fun.Thanks for all your blogs and additions to the Family Christmas Countdown.

This next is hoot. When my life was down in the pits I took a class on making wooden items on a band saw. I felt so powerful pushing the wood through that baby. That's when I started taking back my life. Well Brian Charlotte,Alicia and Blake must have laughed till they fell on the floor at what I made them for Christmas. I made yard ornaments for them. Bigger than life size geese.!! I think Brian said they weren't going up in HIS yard and I recall some remark about shooting. This was in Oregon. Now looking back they must have wondering What is She thinking?? The were ugly. I made them from a pattern in one of the woman's magazines.
Along that same line I once gave Sandra yards and yards of gold velvet cloth. I have no idea what I had in mind on that either.

Merry Christmas Mother, grandma Marilyn and Marilyn

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rejoice and Be Merry: Nativity Play

Mormon Tabernacle Choir's latest music video (I didn't even know they did music videos :) ).

It just wouldn't be Christmas without their Christmas music (among others - Mannheim Steamroller, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Feliz Navidad, the Carpenters, etc.) - especially in recent years - it seems they get better and better

MoTab 12 days of Christmas

Join the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for a daily video with background to
"The Twelve Days of Christmas."


The choir offers a song each day, a unique video and symbolism behind the song's words.
Bookmark this link and check back daily!

Let the yowling begin

You might notice that there are not decorations or danglies on the bottom 2 feet of our tree. No, we don't have a toddler in the house... We have a cat who misses the great outdoors and a dog with a big tail.

The cat is the biggest problem. This evening, he was sleeping upstairs during the tree decorating and didn't eve notice it was there when he came down. He was sitting on my lap at bedtime and Alicia unhooked the lights and they clanked together and he sprang off my lap and ran across the living room to the tree. He instantly remembered that sound.

He walked around the tree several times and then sat next to the trunk and began his annual yowling. It sounds like that wolf in Jack London's books.

And then begins the climbing and shaking of the tree to make the pretty sounds that beautiful ornaments and lights make when they clank together repeatedly.

We usually put the tree as far into the corner as possible and that really gives him a place to yowl from, but this year, since the entry way is so open and has the grand new tile, the tree is more out in the middle, so he doesn't have a specific corner. As near as I can tell from the shaking and wobbling of the tree, we are going to maintain our post in the center of the tree, near the stump. It isn't even a real tree - it is plastic. And sitting under a plastic tree and yowling for the great outdoors is just silly and kind of embarrassing.

At least when we do get toddlers in the house, we will have the no ornaments on the bottom decorating pattern down pat. I suppose at some point we will have to wire it to the ceiling. I seem to remember that tactic from somewhere in my past... (silver tree, very expensive purple balls??? flying off the bookcase in Billings? )

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Carper's Tree












We had a big open house at the church today, called the Festival of Trees, and we had over 15 Christmas trees that people brought and decorated, then we had booths about stuff the church believes. It was pretty cool. But I came home yesterday from being down there setting up and I was completely motivated to get the trees up. I don't really have anywhere to put my tree up downstairs, so I started with mom and dad's. This year they wanted the blue and silver tree and I put a twist on it this year, and added some blue lights, so it has blue and white lights, and blue and silver ornaments, and fancy chains. I think it turned out pretty spiffy! But I don't know if the pics will show it that well. But I was trying to get some shots of it with the light on. Then there is a picture of the stairs. We're not done decorating the stairs yet, we have some painted santa's and stuff to put on there, but they're only half painted, os maybe this week. Now that the open house is over, that gives us back some time. We've been working on that a lot. But anyway, short story long, here's mom and dad's tree. Oh, and you see the mexican star on top of the tree - that's for dad. Mom hates those, and dad loves them, so I compromised for them, and bought a silver one for mom's tree, and dad compromised by it being silver with white lights instead of gold with multi colored lights.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I have been thiking of my most favorite gifts from Christmas.

1. A beautiful red coat when I was about five years old. My Mom and Dad stood me up on the bed and thy were so happy and so was I. I have never figured out how Santa came down that
little black chimmney.

2. A set of painting supplies .Oil panits , brushes and a great box to carry every. I thought it was magic and still had it when I moved here to the Villa.

3. Roller skates when I was 8. Then about a month later we moved from San Francisco to a farm 3 years out of the sage brush in Vale Oregon. OH!My! no sidewalkes.

4.We worked very hard on the farm and we all had chores to do. My cousins lived a mile down the road from us. One year for Christmas Day ____only__Our Dads let us take one of the
huge farm work horses and hooked it on to on to the sled used for carrying big cans of milk. My cousins were older and kind of onery and love to tease me. So we just had a big board to sit on and the cousins,my brothers all got on and I was the last one to get a seat on the board. We all went Dashing Thru the snow. Yelling and Laughing all the way! Every time we hit a bump I fell off. All of the others laughed and so did I. 8 eight times I fell off but it was a wonderful day in my life.
Merry Christmas !!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

More pix, I hope




View of last yrs Christmas (I hop


So I am using my new computer, and I am going to try to figure out how to upload some pixs of last year's tree and mantle, which look stunningly like this year's tree and mantel (or I assume that will be the case, when we get the tree and mantle done!)

Work is total crazy with so much going on before the end of next week. And Susan has AGU (a big conference in the city) next week, so we will both be leaving early and coming home late and working like madwomen. Ahwell.

Love to you all

Monday, December 08, 2008

Surprise!

A friend and I decided on Thursday night to make a VERY quick trip to Salt Lake City over the weekend. The trip was on again off again a few times between Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. But, we finally left for Provo at about 6:00 PM on Friday evening. My friend, Diana's husband and son came with us. They dropped me off at a hotel in Provo at 1:00 AM on Friday night/Saturday morning. I got up early the next day, rented a car, did some shopping and headed up to Salt Lake City. I walked in to mother's room at the nursing home wearing a Santa hat and bearing small gifts. She was working on making Christmas decorations for her door when I came in and she had her back to me. Boy was she surprised when she turned around! We laughed and cried, opened presents and enjoyed a treat from the bakery. What a whimsical, fun day!

By going to Utah I missed the annual luminarias at the college here in Farmington. It is my favorite day of the year in Farmington. So, I was a little sad missing it. But then I decided that I could make up for that by seeing the lights on Temple Square in SLC. So, I headed down that way just as the sun was going down. Me and a million other people. Downtown is pretty torn up right now and there is TONS of construction and not enough parking. I FINALLY found parking and enjoyed a beautiful hour on Temple Square/Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Ahhhhh! It had been several years since I'd been able to see the lights on Temple Square. It was a wonderful treat.

From there I headed south and visited with Dad and Carole for a couple of hours. I think they almost didn't let me in, 'cause it was dark and they weren't expecting anyone at the door. But, when they heard my "ho,ho,ho!" and saw my hat, they decided to open the door and let me in. Fun stuff!

What a serendipitous and magical day it turned out to be for me. We came back on Sunday, arriving back in Farmington just before 4. A very quick, but very fun weekend. Here's a parting shot of Mom in front of her cheery holiday door...and a wish from her to all of you (She could sure use a better videographer, huh?)
video

Merry Christmas, from the Rhiens

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Holiday baking

I must admit - my version of "holiday baking" generally consists of opening a box of Duncan Hinze or Betty Crocker brownie mix (the ones with Hershey chocolate chips in them) - baking according to package - and proceeding to eat the entire tray myself because of holiday induced stress.

Ok - too big of a glimpse into my life....

But really - Cory doesn't love sweets (especially chocolate) - and so I eat way too much of whatever I make. As our kids get older I plan on doing more - but to this point I haven't done much.

But I'd love any recipes that you all make. I'd love to hear what people's favorites are, what they make every year, and I'd love to hear if you tried something new this year.

THANKS everyone!

Thanksgiving


Justin's holding our friends baby Gavin


There's me and Justin in the back there. And dad in the middle of this one.

We went to a friends for Thanksgiving, I'm sure we've already told everyone that, but it was fun. We took a bunch of pictures, but I won't put too many on since most of you don't know any of them. I'll just pick a few that have us in them. It was a good time, lots of food. We ran after Karaoke got into full swing. We're not big Karaoke-ers. :) Good job on mom for bringing and using the camera. I'm too shy to take pictures, I'm a chicken at big events. If its at home and just us, sure no problem, but out with other people mmm not so much. :) I was sure I took a picture of mom, but I don't see it now, so guess I didn't.

Cookies

I have been in the mood to make Christmas cookies for a few years now, but I wanted to make something different, no the usual cookies. So we got a new Taste of Home magazine the other day, and there was a bunch of good looking cookies, so I made some cookies yesterday. They were all really good, so thought I'd share the recipes.

Choco nut balls:
1 cup butter (need to be real), softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and cocoa, gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well Stir in nuts. Roll in 1 inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 325 for 14-16 minutes. Cool on pans 1-2 minutes. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Roll again after about 10 minutes if desired.

Lemon Lover's cookies:
3/4 cup butter softened
3 TBL sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. grated lemon peel (optional, I left it out because I don't like the texture, so I put in a little extra lemon juice)
Lemon Frosting:
1/4 cup soft butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon juice or a little extra for tartness, or to taste
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon juice. Combine flour and cornstarch (and lemon peel if desired). gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Shape into 1 1/2 inch roll, wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Unwrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices. PLace 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden, don't over bake. Cool completely on pans, or granite/marble top. In small bowl, beat butter and sugar together, with lemon juice. Spread over cookies. I did this while they were still slightly warm, and the frosting was just a hair runny, then it made a nice glaze.

Peanut butter cup cookies:

1 cup butter softened

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp. soda

1 pkg Reese's miniature cups

Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle. Roll into 1 1/4 inch balls. Press a miniature peanut butter cup into each, reshape balls. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to racks or plates to cool.