Saturday, December 23, 2006

Yummy Dinner

Thursday, a magazine called "Eating Well" arrived at my house. I have no idea why I received this mag, but I suspect that it may be a Christmas present that I haven't "opened" yet. I sat down to read it and immediately started flagging lots of recipes that sounded good to me. Last night, I made two of those recipes, Creamy Mushroom and Barley Soup and Honey-Oat Quick Bread. I spent about two hours cooking, but it was so worth it. The mushroom soup was full of flavor, and the bread was sweet and hearty. I'd never made bread from scratch before, but this recipe was super easy. We'll be enjoying the leftovers for lunch today. So thanks, whoever you are, for the thoughtful gift.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Holiday Hoopla

Last weekend officially kicked our the holidays festivities. Friday, my magazine staff went out for a nice late lunch and exchanged gifts. Each year, we do a Crafty Christmas gift swap, and everyone has to make gifts for the other 5 staffers. Kevin and I made 4 kinds of cookies (iced gingerbread snowflakes, holiday biscotti, florentines and Gran's russian tea cakes), which we also gave to our neighbors. Megan gave us mint and rhubarb liquor, which she'd been working on since late summer. Tricia made us little purses/totes featuring pretty iron-on photos she'd taken herself. Carmen made yummy chocolate-amaretto and chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes. Susan made her Aunt Iome's famous iced sugar cookies, plus very hip home handmade thank-you notes. And last-but-not-least, Bryn made Take-Five cookie bars and raspberry squares. It's always so fun to see what everyone makes each year and even how we package everything! After lunch, we went ice-skating at Fountain Square downtown, where a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter interviewed us about skating when it was 60 degrees outside. My quote made it into Saturday's paper, LOL.

Saturday, Matt and Amanda came over for our annual Christmas dinner and gift swap. We take turns hosting it each year, and we try to put together something special for dinner and drinks. This year, we made sushi rolls together, which was a lot of fun. And of course, we served more of those cookies for dessert! It's always so much fun exchanging gifts with Matt and Amanda because we go all out. We also usually celebrate New Year's Eve at the house that didn't host Christmas, so we'll be heading over there to ring in 2007.

Sunday, Katie, Matt, Mom, Michael Seth, Joslyn (Seth's girlfriend), Gran, Kevin and I went to see the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts' production of "A Christmas Carol." The couple next door are the director and choreographer for the theater, so it was fun to go check out their great work. Afterward, we kept it simple and picked up LaRosa's pizza then had our family gift exchange (and more cookies). It was a nice day, and we enjoyed meeting Joslyn. Seth seems so grown up!

This week has been pretty low-key since we had almost all of our shopping, decorating, cleaning, baking and wrapping done by last weekend. I had a work holiday today, so I get an extra long weekend. We'll see my mom and Seth Christmas Eve, then we'll go to the Carusos holiday open house on Christmas day. I also bought all the fixins for a gourmet Christmas dinner today. We'll both go back to work Tuesday, then head up to Edgerton on Wednesday for more festivities with Kevin's family.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lucky me!

This afternoon was my annual branch manager's holiday party for my region at work. We usually do a "white elephant" gift exchange and maybe play some games. Well, it was my day!
My first stroke of good luck was being one of the last people to choose a gift. This is lucky because I can steal practically anything and there are very few people left to steal from me. So I ended up with a bottle of Johnny Walker Black whiskey. Not my favorite, but I know that Matt Hood really likes it, so I'll give it a "shot" and maybe let Matt have some too.
Next we played a "brain teaser" game where we had to figure out the name of a Christmas song based on a picture. I was the only one to guess every one correctly, so I won the pot for that ($21!).
Since I was already feeling pretty lucky, I decided to enter the Texas Hold 'Em tournament (thanks to Matt Hulme for showing me the ropes!). There were three top prizes for winners and I ended up winning third place out of about 11 players! The prize for this was a bottle for Maker's Mark... whiskey. So guess what I'm doing tonight... Just kidding! But they will both be great for all the entertaining we are doing in the next few weeks. BTW, second prize was a digital camera, so I was really hoping for that, but I think I ended up pretty good for one day's work (or play).

Indy Recap

Our weekend in Indianapolis was fabulous! We arrived at The Villa Inn around noon Saturday and had a great lunch at the onsite restaurant. Then we headed down to the spa where Kevin got a men's facial and sport pedicure and I enjoyed a 75-minute hot stone massage (heaven!) and a spa manicure. After that, Liz Truitt stopped by and we hung out with her in our huge but very cozy room. Then we got ready and headed to Mass. Ave. for a little shopping and dinner at Bazbeaux Pizza. Later, back in the room, we popped in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (hilarious!) and fell asleep on the super comfy sofa.

Sunday morning we enjoyed a complimentary full breakfast in the restaurant then headed over to the mall. We spent nearly all our time at H&M, a favorite store of ours that's sadly missing from Cincinnati. We both got lots of stuff there, including little thank-you gifts for Courtney and Alexis (for watching Gilmore), and I got some super-sweet brown pointy-toed boots at Bakers. Then it was on to Kingsway Church where we throughly enjoyed an hour of Christmas songs, then laughed our heads off at Liz in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." We're definitely going to have to rent the movie now. We went out for some cheap Mexican food, then headed back to Cincy to pick up the Gil. Tonnya said he was a good boy and lots of fun, which was a relief. We were all tired, but also relaxed and happy, when we got home.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Weekend Update

I wanted you all to know that MacKenzie made his debut as Pet of the Week at Glenway Animal Hospital this week. He'll actually fill the post for two weeks since this week's pet blew the vet off. I went into the office today and snapped some photos of the Pet of the Week bulletin board (yes I'm a nerd, but you already knew that). His photos should be posted on the vet's website soon. Isn't the bulletin board cute?

Things are in full holiday swing around here. Last Saturday was our annual "get the tree and shop til we drop" day. We took Kenzie to the vet for his photo shoot and fabulous prizes, then we took Gilmore and picked up our beautiful tree, compliments of Melissa Caruso's parents who distrubute fruit and trees. Then we shopped for 9 hours straight, and got most of our Christmas list crossed off. We were dragging when we got home at 8, but we managed to muster up some old-school energy and headed to Longworth's in Mount Adams for Erin Morley's 30th birthday bash. We didn't get home until 2, and we tried to go to Taco Bell on our way for old time's sake, but it way closed!!! Sunday, we decorated the tree and the house and watched "Elf" and "Scrooged" before we passed out from all the fun.

Tomorrow, we're headed to the Villa Inn and Spa in Indy for a little Christmas gift to ourselves. We're going to get some spa services, eat good food, shop and see Liz Truitt in her church's production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Gilmore is staying with Kevin and Tonnya Boehmer, which should be a treat for him, Courtney and Lexi (and hopefully for Kevin and Tonnya). We'll write all about it when we get home.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Holiday Hootenanny

If you're looking to waste a little time, here are a few fun links that people have pointed me to this week:
Line Rider lets you use your mouse to draw lines and curves and then send a hapless sledder cruising down your creation. (thanks Megan)
Scared of Santa Gallery features photos of kids who are terrified of Santa Claus. It's hilarious, and a few of the Santas frighten me, too. (thanks Doug)
Tree Decorating 101 shows what would happen if cats were enlisted to decorate and tend to the Christmas tree. (thanks Katie)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hiding from the paparazzi

Now that he's the Pet of the Week, Kenzie is forced to hide from the paparazzi in his brother Gilmore's room. Fortunately he has Maury the Moose for protection.

Or he might be just trying to avoid the chaos of holiday decorating.

Either way, he cracks me up!

We finally found it!

Earlier this year, my Grandma Engler gave all of her grandchildren some money and asked us to buy something that would remind us of her. Sarah and I spent a lot of time thinking of what would be just the right thing. We decided that we would really like to have a nice set of vintage china (something we didn't register for when we got married) so since then we've been looking at antique malls for "the pattern." Yesterday we were doing some Christmas shopping and stopped at the Brass Armadillo, a local antique mall. While we were there we found two partial sets of Noritake china, Sarah wrote down the names of the patterns and we decided to do some online research to see how hard it would be to find additional pieces. After some checking this morning, I found a more complete set of the pattern that I really liked for a great price on eBay. So I bought it, some extra dinner plates, and I plan to go back to the antique mall to get what they had there.
We were really going for a mid-century-modern-vintage look and I think we hit it on the mark with this pattern. It is called "Helene" and was made by Noritake from 1955 to 1961. I'm really excited about them and it makes me feel really good to know we can think about Grandma Engler whenever we have a special meal.
As an added bonus, I'm going to be able to install the old kitchen cabinets in the basement so we will have a great storage place for we're not using them!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Crafty Ladies

The F+W Bizarre Bazaar craft show was today from noon to 2. It was a huge success this year with about 20 crafters and tons of patrons. The HOW staff represented with Susan's notecards, Tricia's photo sets and my cat and dog wares. I did more than $100 worth of business, and I sold some more STAF Big Bucks raffle tickets for a grand total of $210 worth of tickets. Plus, I scored a few great Christmas goodies.