ahhh, family

As I’m sure is true with many of you, these last two weeks have been a whirlwind of family. Mother-in-law in from Paris, my brother-in-law’s wife and two kids (that he’s been “separated” from for the past year) in from Germany. Trips back and forth between my sister-in-law’s house. Hotel stays on Christmas night. It’s been a lot.

I started back to work today, and I really feel unprepared. My brother-in-law’s family is still here for a few more days and they’ll be staying with us for the weekend. I don’t know how I’m going to do my work-from-home job and entertain these people.

I’m sure it will be fine.

Anyway, I got the most beautiful key chain for Christmas from my friend Megan. It’s AWESOME, but sadly, I keep forgetting to call her and tell her it was my most treasured gift! I got lots and lots of awesome gifts. And most of my handmade gifts went over really well. I know for sure that two of the scarves were big hits and are getting lots of wear.

No strange gifts this year – like the time I got equestrian riding apparel. (I don’t ride.) Although, my mother-in-law did give me two identical shirts – one of which I’m positive was intended for my sister-in-law. When I asked her about it, she said when she finds something she likes, she buys two, but I know the truth. I’ll make sure my sister-in-law gets it. We can wear them on the same day :)

Hope everyone’s holiday was full of joy and that you’re now able to put your feet up and rest for 11 more months!

travails and travels

Our trip was very interesting. Half of it was spent with family – fun and stressful at the same time. It’s hard try to coordinate the events for 12 people and still make everyone happy. Impossible, really. The second leg was spent at Pinehurst – world renown resort with 8 golf courses.

Pros: I got to see my awesome grandma, aunt and her new husband. I got to see my sister and her family. I got to see my Dad and step-mom. The visit with all of these people was too short and too full of activity, but it was wonderful anyway. I got to see UCF beat UAB. I got to spend quality time (although, not enough) with a few old friends.

Cons: My sister and my dad kept using me as a go-between to make plans when they were the ones with strong opinions on what we should be doing. Five days isn’t enough time for a small reunion. The family members who weren’t there were greatly missed.

As for Pinehurst, I will tell my tale in a future post. It was lovely and snobby and beautiful and overpriced.

Needless to say, we’re already making plans for the next vacation. This time, I’m voting for Vegas or Branson Missouri.

Wedding gifts…

My aunt is getting married this Saturday. The wedding was originally scheduled for Nov., and I was super excited about going, but life happened, and they moved the date to Aug. 4, making it impossible for me to get an affordable ticket and for my husband to take off work. SO, I don’t get to go. My sister is one of the bridesmaids and my nephews are the Bible bearer and ring bearer – I’m so sad to miss the whole thing.

But in addition to going, I had a few jobs – to make the guest book, ring pillow and the programs – obviously on a super-accelerated time table.

So here’s what I made over the last two days. I think everything came out great – I hope she likes this stuff. You’ll notice the Fall colors – no time to change the bridesmaids dresses, so the Summer wedding gets Fall colors. I love brown and orange, so I think they’re great for any season.

guest book

linen ring pillow and programs

programs

Book #37 – Looking for Peyton Place

Looking for Peyton PlaceLooking for Peyton Place by Barbara Delinsky. First of all, this book made me want to read Peyton Place, so I promptly added it to my library request list. Second – I’ve read lots of books where the writer was kind of conversing with the reader, but this was the first one that I’ve really noticed. There’s a lot of “You’re probably thinking…” and such phrases. It was a little disconcerting. Other than that, I whizzed right through it. Great characters, more than one good story line. I wish I had already read Peyton Place because it seems that this book offers some insight to the author, Grace Metalious. But the heroine, Annie Barnes, is great all on her own. I like that she is honest and steady and sticks to her word. I also like the effort she puts into her relationships with her sisters – it was a little inspiring. I really should try harder with my own sister.

Maybe later.

Anyway, highly recommended. This is my second Barbara Delinsky read, and I really like her. And in case you’re wondering, it’s not all steamy gossip and romance like the name might imply. There’s also a good Erin Brockovich-esqe storyline that’s excellent. [rating:4]

My favorite hamburgers…

My sister and her friend were staying with us all weekend. It was fun and a little exhausting. Thursday night, we went to Hollywood to watch an episode of the new Bill Engvall Show being filmed. (Airs on TBS in mid-July – also starring Tim Meadows!) We had a fairly successful cookout on Friday night, then we went to see some SoCal sights on Saturday. Sunday, they were headed to San Fran for another adventure.

I have to admit that my sister wears me out. We have a somewhat tense relationship, that we both try pretty hard to sugarcoat with niceness. We both had a few drinks on Friday night, and some of the niceness wore away, and the tension flared. Note to self: don’t mix alcohol with sister :) I’d like for it to be more real, but I don’t really think that’s in the cards for us.

For the cookout, I made my favorite kind of burgers…here’s the recipe:

In a food processor, mix:

  • 1 egg
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 shallots, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of cilantro
  • 1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • a shake or two of Tabasco

Pour all that into 2lbs of hamburger and mix with your hands. Make patties and grill. I made this up myself, and I only put measurements on it for recipe’s sake. I really just toss a bunch of stuff in the food processor. This little mix works even better with turkey burgers, because we all know they have no flavor of their own.

Weekend Reflection meme

So I’m trying something new today. I’d like to work my way up to a kick-ass blog party, but I’m starting with this meme to get my feet wet. Basically, I don’t REALLY even know what these things are, but I went on a site called Mister Linky, and I created this widget, so let’s see what it does. Here’s my weekend reflection – I’ll keep it brief. Then you can click the Mister Linky image at the bottom and add your link – creating much linky love for all (I hope).
Caboose

My weekend reflection:

I already told you all about the great dinner party on Saturday. Sunday, my little family ventured out to Old Town Temecula where I found a stamp store, a quilting store and a crochet store all in one building! There was also a jail – what does that say about crafters? Just kidding – it’s the Old Town Jail – now just a tourist destination. NOT a place for annoyed husbands to put their crazy crafter wives.

While in Temecula, we found a park with an old red caboose-turned Boys and Girls Club. Since my son is a junkie for anything with wheels, and is currently perfecting his train whistle every second (choo choo!!!), he loved it. We climbed all over it and took a million pictures (see flickr widget at right.)

Then, we not-very-excitingly ate too much Taco Bell, and headed to the mall to price low-end sewing machines at Sears. That’s right, I’m in the market. Who knew sewing machines cost more than jet skis? Probably all the quilters knew. So I was looking at the reasonable $300 Kenmores and Singers ($300!!! What? That’s reasonable?) My dream is, of course, the $3500 Bernina with all the bells and whistles – the ones that don’t go choo choo!

Then, sadly, my husband got a call that he had to work on Monday – his supposed day off because he works on Saturdays. So our fun was cut short by bedtime (7:30 pm) because he has to get up at 3:00 am. Yuck.

That’s it! Now click this thing below and let’s see what happens. And tell your friends! Link back to me and tell us all about your weekend.

Babies at Dinner Parties?

angelWe went to a lovely dinner party last night – hosted by good friends. They had just purchased new, beautiful furniture, and they wanted to show it off a little. First let me say that I was crazily jealous of this new furniture. I’ve mentioned my five cats before, and the uselessness of getting new furniture, but still…when I saw their awesome leather couches and beautifully matched yellow chairs, I was sooo jealous.

Our cats would ruin that stuff in one day.

Anyway, I got over it, and sat down. Meanwhile, my cute kid was driving his trucks all over their living room.

There were eight adults total at the dinner party, and exactly one 18-month old. I was nervous about this. Luckily, my kid is really, surprisingly well behaved. I’d love to take credit for this, but sadly, I am positive I’ve had very little to do with his happy-go-lucky personality.

The moral here is that we stayed two hours past his bedtime, and he was a perfect angel the whole time. He even provided a bit of entertainment. And I got to enjoy a nice evening with adults – very interesting, funny, smart adults. I think that was the first gathering I’ve attended since becoming a mom where I didn’t “hide” behind my kid. I mean, I used to be really outgoing – able to strike up a conversation with anyone. But once I had my son, I noticed that people only asked me about him, not about me, and I would just fade into the background. But not last night. I had real conversations with people about all kinds of things – hardly any of them being diapers, milestones, or new teeth!

I may be getting the hang of this “being my own person while raising a person” thing.

More favorites…food, food, food

We’ve been eating some good stuff at my house lately, and I thought I’d share it with you other harried moms. First off, my most favorite new product (about a year old, I think):

bertolli

Dinner
Bertolli frozen dinner in a skillet meals. There are a few different flavors of the pasta with meat, then there are a few selections of just pasta. Our favorites are the fettucini and the chicken florentine and farfalle. Awesome. Dump the bag into a skillet and ten minutes later is the best meal with only one dirty pan.

I just went on their site looking for the right name of the one I love and noticed a $2 coupon you can print. Definitely worth the effort, because they run on the expensive side ($7 a bag), unless you catch them on sale. I usually buy a few when I catch them on sale.

The portions are not huge, but it’s the perfect amount for my husband and I. Or just me when I’m feeling like eating a big bowl of pasta. Although, then I feel guilty after.

Snacks
Next favorite: Flat Earth chips. Yum. So far I’ve only tried the farmland cheddar kind, but they are awesome, and my son loves them too. Looking forward to trying the fruit flavors. They’re made with all kinds of veggies and baked, so they’re not too bad for you at all. (As a side note, as I was searching for their site for an image, I found the Flat Earth Society – who believes the Earth is flat and that the whole round idea is a wild government conspiracy. Could be, right?)

Breakfast
Final favorite: The green smoothie – thanks to Moxie. I’ve changed up her recipe a little. I put a container of Horizon organic vanilla milk, about 1.5 cups fresh spinach, a banana, and about .5 cups frozen fruit (tropical fruit bag – mangos, pineapple and strawberries) – blend it all up in the food processor. Awesome. You can’t even taste the spinach! What a great way to eat my fruits and veggies. Highly recommended.

Thats it for today. Let me know if you try any of these…or if you have a fast favorite of your own!