Archive for the 'Holiday fun' Category

4 years from now…

I saw an interesting article about celebrating Leap Day by eating a meal you’d only have every four years. Unfortunately, I just read this article and Leap Day is nearly over…and I had your pretty generic run of the mill meals today. Nothing memorable.

I wish I had done something to mark this day…something I could reflect upon four years from now. Instead, I spent most of the day doing what I do most other days – working. But perhaps I can prognosticate about what I think our life will be the next time Leap Day rolls around.

Four years from now…

  • Micah and I will have a house!
  • We will still both be working for Nordstrom
  • We will have travelled internationally (I’m thinking Europe)
  • We will have another niece or nephew (not saying from who)
  • We will still be active and in as good of shape as we are today
  • We won’t be driving the same cars we are today
  • We will have gone bungee-jumping, skydiving – or something similar

It’s really hard to do this. What would you predict for yourself four years from now?

Merry Christmas

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Extreme gingerbread house makeover

To help jumpstart getting into the holiday spirit, the day after Thanksgiving, Micah and I, and some of our friends headed to downtown Seattle to check out the 19th Annual Gingerbread Village held at the Sheraton Hotel. 

graham cracker house

A fairly accurate example of what my “gingerbread” house would look like.  Just add a more dizzying array of sprinkles, and candy canes.

Unlike the shack you see above, these gingerbread houses mansions are gigantic and utterly amazing…and they’ve been doing this for 19 years!  In addition to it being a festive sort of thing to do, it’s also a fundraiser for diabetes research. 

From their website: “Each year local architecture firms collaborate with the Sheraton Seattle culinary team to custom design, bake, and build awe-inspiring gingerbread displays.”

Here are just some of the ones on display.

 

Kangaroo “reindeer” – very cute…and edible!

It’s a fun and quick thing to check out if you are in the downtown area.  It’s free, but donations accepted.  The lines are surprisingly quite long.

Micah, me, Charissa, Gabe, Naomi, and Vann

Frosty fun on our Alaskan adventure…and frozen fingers too

We went to Alaska for Christmas!!!  We had such a great time!  Naturally, as dictated by the geography and climate of the region – it was freaking cold!

When we were telling our friends about spending Christmas in Alaska, it reminded me very much of this part in the movie The Proposal.  I love this part. 

We flew up on Thursday and Brian picked us up at the airport in Anchorage.  As soon as we stepped off the plane, we were greeted with cold, thick air and beautiful snowy landscapes.

polar bears

Of course, we needed to get some pics with the native wildlife roaming the airport.

 

Isabella was already in bed by the time we got to the house.  But the next morning, she was all smiles.  It hardly took her any time at all to warm up to us (which is drastically different than a few months ago).

Isabella (19 months) and Aunty Lisa.

 

It was so fun playing with her and watching how much she has grown.  She’s ridiculously smart and is in the “copy” stage – so we had to watch our mouths for sure.  (She did pick up “darn it” from me – and easily incorporated it into her vocabulary.) Smile

On Friday, Christmas Eve, we drove out to a reindeer farm.  As we were nearing the farm, we kept seeing the thermometer reading keep dropping and dropping.  It was somewhere near –12 degrees (F) at the farm.  HOLY CRAP!  That’s definitely the coldest weather I’ve been in, let alone, walked around in.

We prepared as best we could with multiple layers, scarves, gloves, hats, and those handwarmers that you shake up.  But it doesn’t take long before you feel the freeze!

reindeerfarm

There was this moose there.  A very friendly moose with one antler.  He liked to give little moose kisses.

 

Time to meet the reindeer!

FYI: Reindeer are essentially the same as caribou.  But of the domesticated variety.  And unlike deer, both males and females grow antlers.  Also, during the winter months, all the males lose their antlers.  So, all those flying reindeer helping Santa spread cheer throughout the world…they are females! Smile

 

After our little reindeer lesson inside the cabin, we each headed out with a little jar full of reindeer food.  And then, cue the reindeer! 

The farm had about 120 reindeer.  They breed them up there and many of them get shipped off…and made into reindeer sausage.

Micah is feeding Comet…wait, that’s Cupid…er..Vixen!

Once they know you’ve got the food, they have a tendency to swarm.  They won’t bite you, but watch out – I don’t think it would feel so nice to be poked in the eye by an antler.

Isabella got to ride one.  I think she was probably too cold to realize how awesome it was!! 

By this time, my fingers were about to fall off.  But I managed to take a picture of Micah and I – complete with my frozen hair strands, and frozen nose boogers.

The reindeer farm was probably the highlight of our Alaskan adventure.  Seriously, it was too cold to do much else.  Instead, we stayed inside the house and did lots of lounging, movie watching, Isabella-entertaining, and eating!!!  We not only had a delicious crab dinner, but a very yummy prime rib dinner too.  Soooooo delish!!

Doing some exploring of touristy Anchorage shops.

And you can’t forget about Christmas!  I didn’t have any Christmas morning pics on my camera, but it was really fun watching Isabella open her presents.  She actually got the hang of it too…and was ripping and tearing wrapping paper.  And customary for a child that age, she was OVERWHELMED with all the new toys, books, etc.  But she definitely had fun playing with them all. 

Lounging in our matching faux-Snuggies playing some Settlers of Catan. 

We flew back to Seattle on Monday afternoon.  It was sad to say goodbye, but we were welcomed with rainy mid-40 degree weather – and it felt warm!

The next time we go back to Alaska…it’ll need to be during the summer.  Micah and I couldn’t hack it up there in the tundra!

Stuffing our stockings

Micah and I are being a bit of ba-hum bugs this Christmas.  We don’t have a tree (we at least had a small fake one in Korea), or any Christmas decorations in our house.  (Granted, we don’t really have the space to store any of it post-Christmas). 

But, I got this great idea from my friend – and now we are no longer barren of any Christmas hoopla. 

Ta da!  Look how cute they are!  And let’s not look at my un-showered, un-made up appearance.

We got some plain, red stockings from JoAnn’s and bought some felt squares in random colors.  Then we each went about creating a stocking for each other.  

Here’s what I made for Micah.  Go Team Snowmen!!  #8 is Micah’s favorite number and his actual football number from college.

 

Of course, Micah can just freehand everything, while I had to draw things out on paper, and then trace it onto the felt.  His natural talent and creativity is annoying something I love about the guy! 

We now have them hanging above our fireplace…ready to be filled with some goodies. 

I caught the Black Friday bug

Black Friday.  The day after Thanksgiving (and now starting as early as the night of Thanksgiving).  Shopping-mania overloadedness. 

I’d never done the whole Black Friday thing before.  Sure, I’ve shopped on Black Friday – during the daytime when normal, natural shopping activity occurs.  But I’ve never participated in the “wait in line hours before the store opens in order to get one of five crazy cheap (insert item).”  In years past, I thought I would try to do it and even planned to do it…but always chose sleep and normalcy over a crazy good deal on (insert item). 

So, I’m not sure what came over me this year.  Simply put, I caught the Black Friday bug.  I call it a “bug” because it is a sickness.  I was certainly given the “are you crazy?” look after telling people I was going to do it this year.  And after standing for hours in the cold and rain, you are bound to come down with something nasty. 

But I was not alone.  Micah’s mom was up from Hawaii visiting us for a few days.  She’s a shopper (although she’ll deny it if you ever tell her that).  Stand in line for hours?  No problem.  Get up before dawn after only a couple hours of sleep?  Sure.  Go to a store you probably don’t shop at normally?  Ok.  She was in!  And shockingly – so was Micah!  A first for us all.

Our Black Friday actually started on err…Maroon Thursday.  (If you know why they call it Black Friday…then you should get my reference. :-))  After our very filling Thanksgiving dinner, Sharon, Micah and I waited for an hour in line at Toys R Us.  It’s right near our house.  We each picked up a few toys – and spent only 30 minutes in the somewhat chaotic store. 

Waiting in line at Toys R Us.  It was cold.  We made the nightly news (or at least a brief flash of us shivering in line).

After shopping and back at the house, we looked over the ads and had to decide at what store were we willing to wait in line. Best Buy?  Nope – to get the best deals, you are looking at a 4 to 5 hour wait time (we aren’t that crazy).  Target or WalMart?  Sorry – those places are meant only for the hardcore (i.e. not us)So what did we decide?  A place near our house and where we had a chance to win $500.  Sports Authority!  Yeah, I know…very random.  Only the first 85 customers in line would receive a gift card (valued from $10 to $500) and we decided we would be part of that select few.

Sharon and I were in line at 3am.  Micah met us at 4am.  We scored free hats.

The funny thing – we got to Sports Authority two hours before its 5am opening time.  While nearby Best Buy and Target had lines circling the block…little ol’ Sports Authority had about nine people in line.  We were a little overzealous in our planning.  We easily could have slept another hour and still made the 85 person cut.  But it’s for the experience!  My mantra for that whole morning.

We ended up each getting only a $10 gift card – but easily found a way to spend it.  Micah purchased some new dumbbells, Sharon bought some yoga mats, and I got a nice, warm winter jacket.  By this time, I could feel a full-on cold coming through, so I headed home while Micah and his mom headed back (yes, back) to Toys R Us to scoop up some Friday-only early bird deals.

simpsons monopoly

Micah’s big score: Simpsons Monopoly – the electronic debit card version – for only $10.  We already busted it out and played – and it’s a lot of fun!

Would I do it again?  Probably not.  The deals are only good if you are even in the market for those items.  A lot of it is just impulse buying, trying to take advantage of the sales, and buying things to justify the crazy hours of waiting in line.  There’s no way a person will wait in line for three hours and just be "window shopping.”  And many of the items you might really really want – well, you probably aren’t going to get it because there will always be someone more hardcore than you.

I didn’t cook a turkey, but I did make a pie

So our original plan was to have our own Thanksgiving dinner at our place.  I’m talking the works: cook own turkey, mash own potatoes, stuff own stuffing…you get the point.  It was starting to become quite the logistical maze – creating shopping lists, searching for delectable recipes, figuring out time to make everything, etc.  We even purchased the necessary Turkey Day supplies. 

But when the opportunity arose to join some friends down in Tacoma for a joint Thanksgiving dinner – we gladly accepted!  They were making not one, but two turkeys.  One of which was of the deep fried variety that I’ve been wanting to try. 

Part of me (a very small part might I add) was a little sad that we weren’t going to be cooking our own turkey (a culinary feat I’ve yet to conquer).  So instead, I took on a different culinary challenge: I made my own pecan pie…from scratch (yes, that means the crust too).  Additionally, I made another pie, plus stuffing, and a strawberry pretzel salad.  It was all soo good!

Making pie crust – I’ve avoided this for years.  Call it fear, lack of skill, laziness – whatever the case – I usually just opt for the store bought variety or just make some other tasty dessert that doesn’t require a crust.  But not this year.  No wussing out!

I searched around and chose this recipe for the perfect pie crust.  And I chose this recipe for the perfect pecan pie(For those cooker/baker types…you MUST check out Pioneer Woman – it’s an awesome blog).

Mixing up the pie crust ingredients with my trusty pastry blender.

 

Look!  It’s pie crust…sort of.

 

Separate and freeze for later. 

 

“Roll, roll, roll your dough.”

  

Add that nice ‘fancy’ crimp to the edges.  Pay no attention to the lack of dough covering that one edge and the massive extra dough covering the other edge.  I said “pay no attention!!!”

  

Follow the very easy pecan pie recipe and you’ll wind up with something like this (pre-baked)…

  

Which will then look something like this out of the oven (or probably a whole lot prettier).  Believe me…it’s tasty as any pecan pie I’ve ever had.

  

In case you were wondering – the other pie I made was also a Pioneer Woman recipe.  It was as equally awesome.  I highly recommend this Pumpkin Cream Pie.  It was delicious, easy to make, and has a super easy crust. 

Graham cracker crust – super duper easy.  You can even buy the premade ones – although this one is all homemade baby!

 

Here’s what the pie filling looks like…yummy. 

  

And voila’!  Super easy Pumpkin Cream Pie!


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