Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas 2007

The busy part of Christmas is past and now I get to sit back and relax. I tried to upload some pics to my blog, but blogger is not having it. Later.

Saturday Joel & I went to a Tritabaugh family holiday gathering at my sister's Nancy's house. Half my siblings were there and about half my nephews and nieces (as well as my great-nephews & nieces). Everyone brought food and my sister made chilli and oyster stew. A strange combination, but another Tritabaugh family tradition nonetheless.

From the party, we brought my mom home with us--we got grandma for Thanksgiving and Christmas! The next 24 hours were spent finishing holiday shopping. The crappy weather didn't make things any easier, but it got done. When my final package arrived on Monday morning, I was good to go!

The first part of Monday was spent baking (the traditional Christmas shortbread), cooking dinner (calico beans and chicken tortilla soup...another odd combination perhaps, but it's all about fixing "favorites"), cleaning, wrapping presents and such stuff. Cyrus came over on Sunday evening. Ana and Adam were planning to come over in the evening, when we would kick off the family festivities.

Ana and Adam arrived just after 7 pm and after everyone finished eating, we dove right into opening presents. Santa was very good this year. Joel got me a Neshek jersey, along with tickets to Twinsfest. (I got Joel a classic Killebrew shirt, a favorite player of his).

Following the opening of presents, we played a great marble/board game--Aggravation. My grandfather made me the board when I was a kid. I grew up playing the game, my kids grew up playing the game... It's not that often that I get to play it with both my kids, but they're both willing to play it when we're together. It was a classic game...full of twists and turns and Cyrus came out the winner.

Late this morning we enjoyed a big brunch before Ana and Adam had to take off to spend the rest of the holiday with Adam's family. I was just fine with not having to prepare a huge holiday meal. I'm still recovering from the Thanksgiving prep.

So it's a quiet ending to the holiday for me...which seems like a perfect ending to such a busy season.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Spicy Christmas Shortbread

Merry Christmas to all! Here's a Christmas favorite that has become part of our holiday traditions. If you want to bake a little something that will make your house smell like Christmas, and tastes great--here it is!
Spicy Christmas Shortbread
2 sticks (1 cup) butter at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons grated orange peel (optional)
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
pinch of granulated sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325. Have two 8-9 inch round cake pans ready (do not need to grease).
2. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, orange peel, spices and baking soda with mixer or by hand, until fluffy. Gradually add flour, beating until just blended.
3. Divide dough in half and press evenly over bottom of ungreased pans. Sprinkle dough with sugar.
4. Bake 25-30 minutes until tops look dry and edges are slightly higher than centers.
5. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5 minutes. Cut while still warm. Store airtight up to two weeks (if it lasts that long) or freeze.
Tastes delicious warm or cool. When warm, melts in your mouth. When cool, it's wonderfully crunchy.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mr. Santa

Mr. Santa was worn out from dealing with all the kids and needed a nap!

Lucy with Santa

Linnea, Becky's daughter

Me & Santa

Lucy & Morgan with Santa

Here are photos from Joel's gig as Santa at my work. The kids pictured are co-workers.

Joel was proud of his natural Santa ponch, but the beard and hair were fake of course. Still I think he made a pretty good looking Santa.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Joel & I returned today from the land of the whirlpool jets. There's something so nice about escaping from home--even if it's only an hour away and even if it's only for a few days. We got to relax, play, and just spend time together without the intrusions of work and kids. We returned to Moondance Inn, where we spent our honeymoon. Moondance is a beautiful bed and breakfast located in Red Wing. I know there are lots of nice b & b's out there...and part of me wants to explore others, but a bigger part of me just wants to return to Moondance again and again. It is such a comforting place to be and feels so homey. I think this little respite will help me get thru the busy holiday season.

We shifted gears dramatically when we returned home. We had a brief stop at home and then Joel went with me to work. Tonight we had our annual holiday party for our program families. Joel played Santa and I was his helper. The parties are always a little chaotic...there are lots of families, adults and kids of all ages, and not nearly enough staff to keep it feeling sane. Actually, the prep always seems to be the worst part. Once the families arrive, everything just seems to happen. Fortunately, our families don't seem adverse to the craziness.

Joel was a great Santa. He handled equally well the kids that were scared of him and the kids who were determined to find out if he was "real". One kid said to him "You work for the little people." Joel responded, "They work for me."

It was a fun night. There will pictures soon--of Moondance and Santa!

Monday, December 10, 2007

From the land of whirlpool jets...

Just a quick note from Moondance Inn...it's beautiful, quiet, and restful here. This room is incredible...decorated in maroons and golds. I want to transfer the whirlpool tub to home...it's a little slice of heaven. I've been in it 3 times already...and I'll be in it at least that many times more. Joel & I are going to venture out to the antique malls and then come back to the whirlpool.

I'll post pictures when we get back (not of us in the tub!). I'm thinking about all you fools at work...and oh so glad I'm not there with you.

Until tomorrow--

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Surrounded by friends and love

Wednesday was my birthday. It was an awesome day surrounded by friendship and love.

As I laid in bed sleeping in the morning I noticed that the neighbors were cooking bacon or sausage (their kitchen is next to our bedroom). Wrong. Joel brought me breakfast in bed, complete with flowers (he also sent me flowers at work on Monday). The morning was filled with phone calls, text messages and such from friends and my kids wishing me a happy birthday (the calls continued throughout the day).

Joel drove me to work (I went in late). We had our team meeting at 11. Several of my teammates brought gifts and treats for my birthday. It was a fun day and it felt good being at work with people who are also good friends and helped make my birthday a celebration.

Joel and I had a quiet evening (I'm fighting a cold and not feeling 100%). Eventually we went out to Cafe Latte for dinner...one of my favorite places. Joel and I are celebrating my birthday and 6 month anniversay with a trip to the b & b we honeymooned at in Red Wing. We'll be leaving on Sunday and return Tuesday. I can't wait to soak in that hot tub.

So, yup, I turned 47. I don't care much about the number. This has been an incredible year for me...with the biggest change in my life being getting married. It doesn't matter how "old" I am, I like where I am. Life is good.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The joys of winter

It's been a long day. It started off with me sluggish after only 5 hours of sleep. I felt like I was coming down with a cold. UGH. The weather report for the day forecasted the second snowstorm in just 4 days. I'm a wimp driving on snowy winter roads and I decided I did not want to drive to work and then risk having to drive home in the storm. Joel drove me to work...which was definitely a bonus.

Work itself wasn't bad...it's Secret Santa week, so there is plenty of fun associated with that. But Tuesday is the day I work late...it's Family Night when we have programming for our families. I don't get out of work on Tuesdays till at least 7:30pm. I was skeptical at the beginning of the day whether we really would hold it tonight...but initial reports was it was a go. But around 3:30 the decision was made--cancel Family Night.

That meant I could make my venture home by bus far earlier...but that did not mean it would be an easy ride. I caught a ride up to Lake Street and then waited 20 minutes for the bus (it should have been a 5 minute wait at best). My toes were numb with cold. But getting on wasn't the hard part. It took an hour to make it to Marshall/Snelling--which would normally take 20 minutes. The entire ride took 1 hour 20 minutes. I was cold to the bone, but it was still better than driving those horrid roads myself.

I took a hot bath and drank a hot cup of tea. Now I'm just chillin in front of the t.v.

Winter can be beautiful, but it can also be a bitch.

6 months and counting

Can't sleep. Way too much caffeine, yesterday, I guess (2 McD's vanilla iced coffees...I gotta swear off those!). One of those nights when I can't turn off the brain.

Joel & I went out to dinner last night to celebrate our 6-month anniversary. My daughter says we're corny. Earlier in the day, Joel surprised me by having a beautiful flower arrangement delivered to me at work.

I love how corny love can be.

Thanks, babe.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

First snow

It had to happen...the first snow. It was a good day to stay home...or at least off the road. We went out to the Farmer's Market and I took some pics of the Christmas tree lot at the Market. Later I spent some time at the studio painting...it's awesome having the studio to escape to--even when the weather is awful. I baked cookies tonight just to make things a bit more cozy.
I hate driving on snowy/icy roads...so I have a feeling I'll be staying home again tomorrow. Sounds like a good deal to me.

A few of my favorite holiday things...

Borrowing a page from Mindy's blog, here are a few of my favorite holiday/winter things...

1. The first snow...throwing the season's first snowball, watching dogs play in it, and maybe even being snowed in (and unable to make it to work!)
2. Setting up my Santa collection
3. Decorating the christmas tree...taking out the ornaments that have special history--like the vintage ornaments from my childhood, the bread dough ones I made with my kids when they were young, and definitely the ones that came from our mystery santa years ago
4. the smell of real Christmas trees
5. Going to the "Dayton's" 8th floor display multiple times, at least once with my daughter (and now for the second year, with Joel & Bree)
6. Baking/decorating holiday cookies/treats...like my ginger shortbread that makes the house smell so good
7. Secret Santa at work (which I love to organize...it's next week...let the games begin!)
8. The period rooms at the Mpls Institute of Arts decorated for the holidays
9. coming in from the cold and soaking in a hot bath
10. warm wool sweaters
11. curling up next to my honey to watch a movie
12. escaping to a bed and breakfast (with a whirlpool in the room)
13. snuggling under the covers on a cold morning
14. 2 weeks off from work (yea, Southside!)
15. making Christmas crafts & gifts
16. soup and fresh baked bread (think Panerra Bread!)
17. celebrating my birthday
18. getting Christmas cards in the mail
19. walking through Mears Park with all the Christmas lights
20. and of course, opening Christmas presents with family