Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Random Thoughts #....3?

Maybe?

1. I am finally, irrevocably, undisputedly, most assuredly DONE with my shopping. I picked the last little bit up a scant hour ago, and I shan't spend any more money. For at least another hour.

2. I was up at TJ Maxx on Saturday looking for a present I ended up not finding. I did, however, leave with a pair of cute new euro-style sneakers for me, a different present for someone else, and socks. You can never have enough socks.

3. I am having a couple of my cousins over for dinner tonight. We're having lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and a dessert. See you guys there!

4. I am driving up to Newport tomorrow afternoon. In winter storm #3. That makes three storms in one week. Yay. I'm thinking this one won't be quite so bad. Hoping anyway. It's a long drive as it is, bad weather will make it painfully long. I won't take any of the shortcuts I usually do, as they're all on back roads off secondary roads. And full of hills. Just not going to go there. I'm leaving work at noon and heading straight up, since it's on the way. Or at least, a way.

5. Um...

6. My favorite holiday viewing on the television is the Nutcracker Suite. No one in my family lets me watch it because they're sick to deal of it. Scrooges.

7. If I see one more version of A Christmas Carol I'm going to take hostages. Although, I will admit that I did like Scrooged when it came out. Carol Kane's Ghost of Christmas Present had me rolling on the floor with laughter.

8. I've never met a Christmas cookie I didn't like. Which is why I never let my Weight Watchers subscription lapse.

9. I am bringing like four or five loads of laundry to my Mom's house. That is kinda sad, isn't it? At least I don't expect her to do it.

10. I can't believe 2008 is nearly over already. This year flew by. I met a lot of really great people, some really great people moved away (sniff), had some great experiences and learned a few things about myself. Hopefully the trend will continue.

Except for the friends moving aways part. No one else is allowed to move away. Got that???

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Phew!

Today was a snow day. It was actually rather amusing; I looked out the window one moment to see it not doing anything, and five minutes later it had started snowing. That was at 8:30 this morning. It's been snowing ever since. "They" were expecting 6"-12" here in Burlington and more in the mountains, but I think we've already gotten our 12 inches. It's going to be some kind of fun digging my car out in the morning. Wish that the office would call it a snow day, but I know better than that. It will be business as usual. Maybe delayed a little, but we'll be open. Sigh. How I long for the days when a foot of snow meant we had the day off...

Anyhoo... what does one do when one is stuck inside all day? Why, one bakes of course! I went a little nutso today. I made these lovelies:

Cranberry Almond Biscotti off the Vegetarian Times website. They are super yummy. Here is the recipe if you are interested.







After that I made rolls of varying sizes, mainly because I didn't bother to buy myself any bread at the store yesterday and I needed something. I made a couple larger rolls as burger rolls, a couple regular sized rolls, and some soft breadsticks, which came out really well. The burger rolls are a bit dense. Good if you're a bread addict like I am, but they fill you up quickly. I'm not entirely sure that was a good idea, LOL.

I also made a couple lasagnas. Well, one recipes in two dishes. I made them for a dinner I'm having Tuesday night. A couple of local cousins are coming over and we're doing a pre-Christmas low key hanging out deal. I did something similar last year and it was quite fun. Normally I would have made the whole thing in one lasagna pan, but as Wednesday is Christmas eve and no one will be home for a couple days, I didn't want food to go to waste. So, the second half will remain in the freezer until we're feeling lasagna-y again.

I wish I could find a vegan lasagna recipe that I wouldn't be afraid to serve the meat-eating populace. I'm sorry, but tofu/nut "ricotta" tastes nothing like the original. I like it well enough, don't get me wrong, but there's no way the omnivores will. Ah well. I have plenty of other vegan recipes, I'll have to break those out and serve 'em. Nothing "funny" in them like tofu.

Oh... and as a final note, Happy Solstice!!! Blessings to you upon the return of the Sun (ie, it can't get any darker than this, people!)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

If anyone hums "Let it Snow!" one more time...

Wham. boom! Straight to the moon.

Just kidding. The storm that halted the northern half the the US yesterday wasn't supposed to do anything much in my neck of the woods. We were only supposed to get 4" to 6" inches. In Vermont-speak that's a minor annoyance. Certainly not enough to stop things up overmuch. Well, we ended up getting more than expected. I'd say it was closer to 8" to 12", but I'm a poor judge of things. And it is cold today. I think the "high" was a whopping 5 degrees Fahrenheit, which in Celsius is... um... if 32F is 0C, then... -fuckitscold.

Needless to say, everyone and their brother was out and about today. Not only is today the Saturday before Christmas, it's the only decent day this weekend. We're supposed to get another storm tomorrow. Basically, it's supposed to snow all day. Everyone was out frantically finishing up Christmas shopping and buying food supplies. Ugh. And crazy me went out in it. I wish I'd have brought my camera along so you could see the traffic craziness, but I forgot. I did, however, go out for a walk before the sun went down, and got some pictures of my neighborhood. 

It's hard to tell from this picture, but there were literally hundreds of crows all around me. I felt like I was in a Hitchcock movie. Forget a "murder" of crows, this was a "serial killer" of crows...





Looking down one of the area bike paths. The snow was about mid-shin.







Yeah, I think there is more than 4"-6" on that tree...











Berries in snow. How festive.









This will be the first Christmas in a good long while where we'll be guaranteed a white one. While I generally think white Christmases are more of a pain in the ass than anything else (only Hollywood can make the idea of driving to Vermont to get snowed in look like a good idea), I will admit that it is very pretty and that I don't mind it so much. I will not say the same thing in another month.

My thighs are finally defrosting from my walk, so I think I may go make some hot chocolate and Bailey's. Mmmmm... toasty.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Contented Sigh

I have been in a wonderful mood lately. We're on day three of just feeling peachy keen about life in general. I have no idea why I feel so spectacular, but I'll gratefully take it.

It's got nothing to do with the upcoming holidays, it's just a feeling of general goodness. It's not the weather, because it's downright crappy out there right now, and I'm still happy.

I love that I have been able to be introspective (see the post below) and still maintain a level of contentedness. So often, introspection can drag me down, I am glad that it hasn't.

I love being happy. I'll happily be happy for as long as I can manage.

*sigh*
*grin*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I should update... or something...

Not much of interest has been going on in my world. Basically I'm just counting down until next week, which happens to be a short week for me work-wise. I'm only going in for a half-day on the 24th, mainly because it's on the way to my Mum's house, so since I'm passing by I might as well stop in. I'm taking the 26th off, because not working that day was a luxury I didn't have for many years. The week after that is even shorter, as I'm taking the 31st off to head down to New York City. That's right, friends. NYE in NYC. Thank you Mary for inviting me! I'm sure I'll have loads of pictures when I return.

Other than that, my days have been filled with work, and my evenings with frantic knitting in order to get these last few presents finished. Which is actually what I should be doing right now, but it can wait a few more minutes. I finished 99% of my shopping finished last Saturday, and I intend to complete what little I have this weekend. Mostly stocking stuffers for my mum at this point.

I am looking forward to Christmas, more for the time off than anything else. Don't get me wrong, I like Christmas well enough, and I have very fond memories of the holiday. I just can't get wrapped up in the hype like so many others. Part of it is probably because my Dad died in December, and so many others in my family have followed suit that it just isn't the same when we get together. I'm sure another part of it is I simply cannot maintain 30+ days of perkiness and cheer that seems to be a requirement in order to have a "Merry Christmas" these days.

I also tend to get irked that so many people just assume that I celebrate Christmas, and when they say "Happy Holidays" most of them say it in such a way as to imply "really, I mean Merry Christmas. Isn't this Happy Holidays thing silly?" It makes me want to go around wishing everyone Happy Yule just to freak them out.

Who knows? I always seem to come around in the end. When you get right down to it, all the holidays this time of year are a celebration of the lengthening of the days. It's a time to hunker down and appreciate what you have and those around you. It's a time to reconnect and reforge the bonds that can be called upon in tough times. I can get behind that.

Of course, it could be my mom's cookies that push me over the edge. She makes damned good Christmas cookies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Things We Do...

...to amuse ourselves.

I work in a former underwear factory. Now that's an opening line if I ever heard one...

Anyway, the building is commercial but everything else around us is residential. I happen to have my own window (I'm not bragging about that. Really) and it looks out onto the back yard of a house of a youngish couple with no kids.

Now, from what we can gather from our windows, the Lady of the House works outside the home. The Gentleman of the House.... well, we call him the Wanderer because that's all we ever see him doing. So far as we can tell he has no job. He'll wander over there and poke something or pick at something, then wander over the other direction and kick at something. In the winter he goes skiing, and watching him get out of his FLAT snowy driveway is always entertaining. He is obviously a Flatlander. In the summer, he plays around with his boat out in the driveway. Which we are convinced has never actually been in the lake, he just drives it around to prove he has it.

We want his life.

Anyway, my coworker and I have this whole running story with that house. The Lady was not around for a couple months (that we saw anyway). So, obviously we became convinced that he killed her and buried her under that sapling that appeared one day. The sapling died early on, which was of course because he did a piss-poor job of burying her. Then one day he drove off with a load of chipped wood in the truck. We all know about wood chippers now, don't we? Unfortunately, she showed up a couple weeks ago. So, obviously she's the Lady's evil twin and in cahoots with him.

We're also convinced that he's not renovating his kitchen, but rather revamping his Basement Lair, where he holds those little old ladies who are always showing up as hostages. They just had an oil delivery. 'Cause, you know, disposing of little old ladies runs through the oil quickly.

We're very interested to see what the Wanderer will do next. We anxiously look out the window and point out new happenings at every availability. And some day, like Jimmy Stewart or Shia LeBeouf, we'll be right, damn it!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

CookieFest 2008

Don't these look marvelous?









Yeah, these had nothing to do with our cookie making festivities. When we say "CookieFest" we mean "half-hearted attempt at a couple batches of cookies, followed by wine and copious amounts of chips, dips, and the aforementioned cookies." But that's too long for a title.

I made ginger "snaps," although they never really get snappy. More like gingerbread cookies. Marie made some sugar cookies. We were going to make some shortbread cookies, but we both pooped out before we got that far. We did learn one thing, though. Whole wheat flour does not make for good cookies, unless you load them up with frosting after. Here are some highlights:

Marie's sugar cookies. Haylee frosted some later on, but apparently I forgot to take a picture of them. Thought I had.







Haylee helping Marie out by cutting out the sugar cookies.








My ginger snap cookies. I used graham flour with them, which gives them an interesting texture, but they are even less snappy than the regular recipe. Lovely with a cup of tea though.






Anyway, I headed back this afternoon. 2/3 of the 2-hour drive was uneventful, but the last 1/3 turned really nasty. It was supposed to be flurries on and off all day, but once I got past Waterbury heading north, it was downright nasty. It had obviously been snowing for a while, there were cars off the road left and right, and white-out conditions in several spots. I got as far as Williston (the exit before mine) and went back roads home the rest of the way. The wind is really whipping outside, just making things worse.

I am home now, cozy in my pjs and a Harry Potter marathon. I plan on curling up with my latest Vegetarian Times magazine and to not eat any more cookies. God damn it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ugh.

I had cheese at work today. Good cheese. Arguably the best cheese. Cabot's Seriously Sharp "Hunter's Favorite". It used to be called Hunter's Extra Sharp, but they changed the name recently. Mmmmmm.

I think I am losing my tolerance for cheese. It's currently sitting like a brick in my tummy, and it's rather unpleasant. I probably ate too much. But then, I've eaten more than this without a problem.

Losing my tolerance for cheese would not be a bad thing. It would make my half-hearted attempts toward veganism that much easier. And eating out/eating with people who think vegetarian = cheese that much more difficult.

Maybe I'm just all cheesed out.

Sigh. I really like cheese.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Random Musings from a Tortured Soul

Or, you know, a bored one...

1. Everything I had written in my head just went out the window when I opened my blog up. I have no idea what I was going to say.

2. I hope I have pictures of my dance recital last week soon. I'm looking forward to seeing what they look like. Plus, I gotta admit I kinda like looking at myself in that outfit. Alex was right - I'm rocking it!

3. This weekend I am heading down to my friend Marie's for "CookieFest 2008." We started CookieFest two years ago along with our friend Robin. We ended up skipping last year because it's hard to bake a lot of cookies when you have a three week old baby to tend. This year, Robin is in Virginia so she won't be here with her now one-year old sweetie. Marie and I will be taking pictures. We might actually make cookies, too.

4. I am watching Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The Johnny Depp version. I swear to god he's doing him as Michael Jackson. I kinda want some candy now...

5. Tomorrow evening is my company's Holiday Party. We're having it at a coworker's house this year. It is within walking distance of my house, so I hope the weather holds enough for me to do so. It seems pretty pointless to drive what I can easily walk.

6. I need to figure out what I'm going to bring for the Yankee Swap at the party. The rule is, you can't buy anything (reduce, reuse, recycle and all that). So I'm trying to figure out what I am not using and what someone might be vaguely interested in. Usually my gifts for these type of things tank. Whatever.

7. I am totally not feeling Christmas this year. I just don't care. The only good thing about it is the fact I get the day off. I have no desire to go out and buy or make anything for anyone. I don't really care if I get anything, for that matter. I'm kinda hoping I change my tune because generally I have fond memories of Christmas. Honestly, it's hard to get psyched about Christmas when the number of people attending have dwindled by half, in the space of just a few years. It can be hard to really remember why you're getting together and celebrating. But it's important to do, isn't it? Yeah, you can remember the people who aren't there anymore, but you need to celebrate what you still have.

You need to celebrate the people in your life, both near and far. Because if you don't have those loving, caring people in your life you've got nothing.

8. I still want candy. And Violet just turned into a blueberry.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Yay/Boo Part Deux

It's been a while since I played Yay/Boo with you. Or have I never? I can't remember. Anyway...

Tonight I decided to make banana muffins: Yay!
Because I had two bananas turning black: Boo! (and, ew)
The muffins just came out of the oven: Yay!
Turns out I made banana hockey pucks because I forgot the baking powder (again): Boo!
Discovered that I forgot to write the baking powder in the recipe, so I fixed it: Yay!
Discovered that I ran out of ketchup at dinner, and I didn't want to schlep to the store: Boo!
So I found a recipe and made my own ketchup: ... er, I'll get back to you on that one.
Discovered as I opened the door to throw the recycling in the bin that the UPS guy had dropped off a package, which is a Christmas prezzie for a friend: Super yay!

We'll end on a "Yay!", shall we?

The ketchup is in the fridge now. It tastes okay, I suppose. I'll keep you posted as to whether or not it tastes good tomorrow...

This is Two.

Monday the 21st was our 2-year wedding anniversary. We build the Matrimonial Pizza, with my brother officiating and my Chick of Honor wat...