Monday, December 31, 2007

One last Christmas Blog

Wow! Christmas sure came and went quick this year, didn't it? I have some final 2007 photos to share with you, and a few words to say: . (Who can guess what book that is from? :) Also a note on how crazy this year has been- now that it's over it seems to have gone by quickly, but if I really ponder on it, I will have to decide that it did not go by all that fast. Too many things have happened- Sean and Ashton turning 5 and starting kindergarten, numerous holidays with family across the country, a response from an author to a book review I wrote (whoo-hoo!), sledding, climbing, triathlons and my first half-marathon at Tahoe! Plus, the addition of pictures (as a result of a Feb. birthday) to my blogs with the help of my new pocket-friendly digital camera (and hopefully the addition of video clips to come soon!). That's quite a lot. And slooooowly working my way through a master's degree drags somethin' aweful! Not that the work is too hard (most of the time!); just that I'd rather be playing with the boys or reading what I want to read, and not some boring textbook.

Anyway, here are some pictures from Cornucopia at my parent's house. First up, a showing of the very lucky twins, who received (by far) the largest haul this year. (Every year?)

Next, my happy brother oggling his brand new Kitchen Aide (top model, I might add- thanks Mom!). We've used that thing every day at my house since then, including that night when I begged him to make me his fantastic molasses cookies.

And our friend Frank, whom I've known since the 8th grade when we started swimming together for McQueen H.S. And then lifeguarded together for several years. He and both of my brothers have remained really close, and I like it when he visits me too.

One of my parents, even if I couldn't get them to both look at me (and not blink) at the same time:

And finally, one of me:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Visit from Santa

Saturday we cut our tree. Then the boys decorated it almost entirely on their own. They learned about not letting two ornaments touch ("They might break!"), but somehow managed to break the lights. Here's Sean concentrating really hard:

And them both together, Ashton reaching for the high bare places:

Sunday, we went to Kevin's church, St. Anthony's Greek Orthodox Church for mass and a wonderful luncheon and crafts for the kids. And a special visitor came: Santa! He came with three sacks of presents, and all the kids gathered 'round to sit at his feet while he called out names and cried out a merry "Ho Ho Ho!" here and there (he was really good!). This year was the first time Sean and Ashton actually asked to see him- last year they pretty much freaked out when we walked past his little "house" in the mall. That makes a second milestone for them this year: in the spring, they were still afraid of the ocean and when we went to LA for Thanksgiving, they went and put their feet in with me. Yeah for being big 5-year-olds! I digress~ They were SO excited, and sure had a lot to say to Santa in between each child called, and they even got high-fives!

Santa called out Ashton's name first:

Then Sean- grinning from ear to ear!

And here is the finished tree, and the boys displaying their gifts from Santa. We did get a really old piano that was donated to the music program at Kevin's school, but they didn't need it, so it is living in our dining room now- quite dusty and needs a couple serious tuning sessions, but otherwise in great shape! It has a nice sound for a hundred (ish) year-old piano.

Finally, I want to share one last picture: the most in-shape Santa there ever was!

(This is actually my friend Chris from the library, and except for his secret pillow stuffing habits, he really is a great Santa!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Tree Cutting

After such a long, stressful and super busy semester (which officially ended yesterday, YEAH!), we were finally able to escape and cut our Christmas tree with Kevin's parents and sister. Of course I felt the need to document the entire morning on film and so now have many pictures to share with you! :) The nicest part is that we are lucky enough to live so close to Galena forest, and headed up Mt. Rose HWY for a few miles to Timberline Dr. where we off-roaded a bit (on balding tires- not good, but still managed not to get stuck, thanks to Kevin's truck driving skills). We found a good place to park, and hiked in to find our trees- here is a picture of the path we made through some very powdery snow.

It was so beautiful with the sun filtering through the trees, catching sparse patches of crystalline iridescence. Here's a close up of some dried grass poking through the snow flakes.

Here's Kevin shouting for the boys (and Pirate) to come check out the tree he found-

The trek back to the truck with the trees:

It was pretty cold- low 30s I'd guess, and proof that is how powdery the show was- it would barely stay together to make a snowball. I had Alice do a demonstration to show just how much snow can resemble dandelion fluff~

And The Boys with Papa, and the tree safely in the back of the truck:

Pirate wants in the picture too!

And here we have Sean eating snow: typical little 5-year-old!

And Ashton as well:

A fun day- just nice to be outside in the fresh air with family (and not working on the ever-ongoing stream of papers I seemed to have this semester)! I feel like I can finally start concentrating on Christmas instead of walking around preoccupied and trying to think of 8 things at the same time...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Apple Pie

I'm a little behind in my blogging, but I do have some pictures from our Thanksgiving vacation to L.A. that I want to share. We left Reno at 3 a.m. Thursday morning, and arrived in Bishop, CA at about 6:30 just in time for breakfast at the famous Erick Schat's Bakkery. Here is a picture of the front:

And a picture from the parking lot- you can see the blue roof a little better, and the "Schat's Mobile":

And finally, a picture of the boys getting their sugar high from the cinnamon rolls and dounuts they had for breakfast...

We stayed with Kevin's Aunt Sandee and Uncle Mike in Costa Mesa, and Sierra (their daughter) requested an apple pie. So I volunteered because I've been looking for a reason to try out Turi's recipe he posted on his blog, plus they had this great apple corer/peeler/slicer that was way too much fun (and super fast) to use. But to make things interesting, Uncle Mike walked in and poured himself a whiskey and Coke, so, in the spirit of baking and friendship (and getting really drunk really fast), I poured myself one too! Accidentally filled my cup half way though, and if you look at the pictures as I was baking, you can see my progress. Here is the first picture of the apples after I had sauteed them in butter, and set them on a pan to cool. (Jack and Coke to the left.)

While that was cooling, I unrolled a pre-made pie crust and sliced an extra one into long strips for the lattice work on the top. (Notice the two loaves of Schat's bread at the top left?)

Skipping ahead, here is a pic of the pie filled, latticed, trimmed. I deviated from the recipe slightly (sorry Turi) and brushed the top with egg white and sprinkled white sugar- a suggestion I found in the Joy of Cooking. (Glass only half full at this point, alcohol settling into my blood stream nicely by now- and a good thing I had the pie done as well! :)

And finally, the finished product (and an empty glass!) I had to pull it out before the timer went off (baked only about 38 minutes) because the top was getting dark. Turned out perfect! Pie was gone before we left for Reno...

I had to take a nap after the pie was done, but I did get up and make a tortilla soup recipe for dinner that has been growing in popularity of late~