Saturday, December 30, 2006

whew, what a week!

So Christmas has come and gone, and I'm still exhausted, but happy.

I managed to find a fabulous mac & cheese recipe for my family's Christmas Eve shindig, which I figured would help at least my kid find something she wanted to eat amongst the cornucopia of entrees usually presented for consumption at those things. And believe it or not, I found it on the back of the Creamette pasta box! I'd link it, but I just looked for it and it's not on their website. Poo. But trust me, it was yummy. Crap, I'd better cut that recipe from the box before I forget. [running to kitchen]

Christmas Day brought a whole slew of other tasks to accomplish. We got up around 6:30 to watch the kid open her gifts from Santa, us, and the dog (yes, the dog bought my kid presents, shut up), which all went over quite well. Considering the fact that she had a pretty specific list of things she wanted, it would've taken the village idiot to screw it up. And come 7:15, we were out the door to get her to her dad's house by 8:00. The kid scored, dudes - she had Christmas with my family, one with us, another one with her dad, and she'll get another one this weekend when she comes back home to another pile of gifts. In fact, she'll get two - we're headed to my mom's house for New Year's Eve, where she'll score on even more gifts! Sheesh. I miss being a kid.

And then....the moment I got home, it was time to start cooking. I had a full-blown Christmas luncheon to prepare. On the menu:
  • Prime rib au jus
  • Salad (brought by the grandparents, thankfully)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Creamed corn
  • Creamed spinach
  • Rolls & butter

Plus we had cheesecake and homemade cookies to offer up for dessert, with yummy coffee from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. As I'd prayed earlier, the culinary gods blessed me with a perfect meal. Everything turned out just as I'd hoped, and I think I managed to cement myself into a nice cushy place in the family fo' sho'. Granted, they'd been treating me as one of the family for years, but I think this meal nudged me into a permanent spot.

As for gifts, I scored on some pretty nice stuff. I got a lot of supplies to feed my cardmaking/scrapbooking passion, a miniature sewing machine (yay!!), the Fergie CD (again, shut up), a copy of Talladega Nights on DVD, snacks in my stocking, gift cards to Target, Nordstrom, and Black Angus, Philosophy shower gel in my favorite flavor (powdered sugar cookie), some cash, and the biggest gift ever: a dishwasher. Sadly, we don't have room for it, so it's probably going to get traded for a cool laser printer, but it was very sweet of the ILs, don't you think? I constantly bitch and moan about BEING the dishwasher in this house, but we just can't find a spot for it. Poo again.

Tonight's our engagement-versary. SHUT UP! We celebrate it! I see steak & lobster in my immediate future. Mmmmmmm.....it's all about the food.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

it's almost over. yippee!

Don't get me wrong. I truly love Christmas, I really do. The cooler weather, the shopping, the spreading of good cheer, Christmas carols, the excitement at church as the holiday gets closer....it's all wonderful.

But I'm so tired of the prep work. I think it just multiplies every year - shopping, baking, parties, cleaning..... and I'm exhausted! I think I'm just getting old and crusty.

Oh, and I'm baking again to give more gifts. But I found mason jars that are about half the size of the ones I filled last week. Heh. I wish I'd have made this discovery a lot sooner!

And tomorrow, I need blessings from the culinary gods. I'm doing a full-on prime rib roast with all the side dishes - creamed corn, creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, horseradish, au jus. It sounds so fabulous...I hope it turns out okay. What on earth possessed me to volunteer myself for this, anyway?? Do I look like Betty Crocker? [looking in mirror]

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy [insert other cultural holiday here], everybody!

Friday, December 22, 2006

i'm all rested up now.

I spent Wednesday evening/night in the kitchen. Not only did I make dinner, but I was a baking fool. I found out the hard way that mason jars require a crapload of cookies to fill!

And because I'm a nerd, I got bored with making the same kind of cookies. Therefore, I present to you the 2006 Cookie Parade:

Black & White Chocolate Chip



Snickerdoodles












Hawaiian wedding cookies












Chewy molasses spice











Eggnog spice (not as gross as it sounds -
it's really a nutmeg flavored cookie
topped with butter rum frosting)












The sampler platter I took to work as a parting gift:
And finally, the labels I put on top of the
jars to identify the cookie flavor:









Whoa, I really DO have Martha Stewart issues. Help me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

cookies, cookies, and more cookies.

The Christmas cookie gift project has officially begun.
So far, I've got a whopping three mason jars full of snickerdoodles. And of course, even after I measured so carefully, the stupid cookies are probably about 1/2" smaller in diameter than I wanted. Martha Stewart, I ain't. But they taste good! That's a start, I suppose.
I'm sitting here typing as my first dozen eggnog tea cookies are baking. Please send me happy cookie vibes - I didn't do a test run of these and I'm a little frightened. They'll get icing with rum in it, though....when all else fails, ply 'em with likka.
And those three mason jars? Only a small dent in the TWELVE I have to fill. Not to mention the other tins I'll be filling with probably 3 different kinds of cookies. At least I don't have to do all of them by Christmas.....
[shaking fist at Martha for making me think homemade gifts were the way to go]
The timer's going off! *sigh*

Monday, December 18, 2006

knotties + food + presents

= more fun than you can possibly imagine!

Our ginormous group managed to pull it together for the first annual SFAMily Holiday Hoorah! It was held on Sunday at Firefly Bistro, in South Pasadena. There were so many fabulous elements to this gathering - really yummy food, a cute location (although I'm sure the other patrons were sorry they chose Firefly for a nice, quiet Sunday brunch), fun gift exchanges, and a surprise visit from our favorite pregnant Knottie! Sadly, there were two members of the SFAMily who were MIA, and we missed them a lot. But *tear* we managed to press on and have a good time anyway. ;)

Here's our "tree":
And we had a few party favors, too - yummy brownies with the cutest greeting, and two of my own offerings - candy and a calendar with everyone's birthdays and anniversary/wedding days. I'd post a photo, but I ate 'em before I realized it probably would have been cool to snap a pic. And of course, I managed to completely overlook printing a calendar for myself. Oh, well. I'm printing a couple extra anyway, for the two who couldn't make it. I guess I can throw one in there for me, too. Sweet!

Here's one of the highlights of the White Elephant Gift Exchange ($5 limit!):



This was K before I stole that Santa right out from under her! I like the slightly dumbfounded look on the random dude behind her, too. I'd "paint" him out, but what fun would that be?

All in all, it was probably one of the most fun gatherings we've had yet! And, here's a little something that was captured by the dude who volunteered to take our group picture. It's really fuzzy, but you get the picture. And I'm htmltarded, so I can't figure out how to get the whole screen in.
Dear nice man who so kindly offered to help us out: Um, you got stuck on the "video" mode, dude. But hey, thanks for playing. And a Merry Christmas to ya.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

too. busy. to. blog.

Say it ain't so! That's so sad!

[imagining people's reactions, and being optimistic]

I've been bogged down with testing cookie recipes. Taking the kid to activities. Shopping.

and not even the fun, Christmas-y kind of shopping. Ralph's, Michael's and the local scrapbooking store have become my haunts lately. But I'm not complaining - it's really fun! It's just keeping me from my blog. And that is a tragedy.

I'm finishing up an order of bridal shower invitations, and I think I managed to score myself another Knottie wedding invitation gig! I didn't even have to break any Knot rules to get it. So there, Knotzis! [shaking fist]

I'm really hoping to make up some fun favors for a special group of peeps that I'm going to see on Sunday. But I'm running out of time.

NOOOOO! THERE'S NEVER ENOUGH TIME! I'M SO EXCITED! I'M SO EXCITED! I'M SO.......

Well, you know where I'm going with that.

Not to mention, I stupidly volunteered to do Christmas lunch with the hub's family - and said I'd do a prime rib with all the trimmings! What in the hell was I thinking?!? And so of course, invitations had to be designed and assembled. OF COURSE. I'll post a picture of the finished product later. They're pretty cute, if I do say so myself!

I know you'll be waiting with bated breath. Okay, maybe not, but humor me here, people. It's the holiday season.

Monday, December 11, 2006

it's beginning to look a lot like christmas!

Okay, okay, that was TOTALLY corny and cheesy, but I couldn't help it. I really love the holidays, and it was weird to think that it's actually that time of year without a tree.
So we got one.It was also one hell of a cookie weekend. I'm sticking to my word and doing cookie gifts for everyone this year, and I've been poring over every holiday magazine and cookie book I can get my hands on. So I picked out a handful of recipes that sounded good, cut 'em in half, and put the oven to work. I made:
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Cinnamon chip coins
  • Chewy molasses spice
  • Chocolate peppermint
I took a bunch of extra cookies to the office today. Made me look like a total rock starrr-ah!

And, here's one of my most favoritest photos of the year:

And because I am a true photo whore, I had to have this one:

I love my kid. And my dog.

Friday, December 8, 2006

best. day. ever.

The dream is alive, people!

I really tried not to look so excited as I did it, but I gave my boss my two-week notice yesterday.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!

In less than two weeks, I finally get to live my lifelong dream of stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). I can volunteer more at the kid's school, concentrate on the invite business, and make fabulous, creative, elaborate dinners on any given night. I can bake cookies for an after-school treat! I can take a pilates class at my yoga studio!

Oh, the possibilities are endless. Santa came early this year for this desperate-to-be-a-housewife. Life is good, very good indeed.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

they're done!! weeeeeeee!!!

I decided that I was going to create and produce our own family Christmas cards this year. Hallmark ain't got nothin' on my skillz, yo.

I checked out our wedding invitation guest list and thought, I can do this! I estimated having perhaps 75 cards to do. I was a little daunted at the idea, but I figured, maybe putting some of my work out there might generate some inquiries, right? There's family and friends and clients and co-workers on our addressee list. Someone's got to know someone who could use my help.

Well, it turned out to be more like 125 cards. 125!! I felt like I was gluing and assembling for days. But just now, I watched our mail lady take away the stacks of carefully addressed, sealed, and stamped cards. I also came to the realization that 125 is nothing - it could have been way more than that. And especially if I get any clients with ginormous wedding guest lists and such.

So I danced a little jig in my chair. Yippee! One holiday task down, and only 187389017 to go.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

recipe for a wan-derful evening:

Ingredients:

1 very dorky female
1 twice-worn (but oft-tried on) wedding gown
an extremely patient husband
the top tier of a wedding cake, half frozen
very sharp knife
one wedding video
wedding veil (optional, but helpful)
digital camera
comfy couch

Take the dorky female and add the wedding gown. Stir in a truckload of cheeseballness and mix well. Season generously with bridal twirling and squealing. Put the optional wedding veil on and use the digital camera to capture extreme nuttiness. Both video and still photography are highly recommended. Set aside for later use.

Place patient husband on the comfy couch. Sprinkle him with lots of extra patience and happiness, then set up wedding video. Take the very sharp knife and use it to carve a slice of half-frozen wedding cake (after taking photos of cake, of course).
Hit "play" on video and begin to eat cake. Top with a dollop of hilarious commentary on wedding video. Take more photos, and then call it a night. ;)

Monday, December 4, 2006

happy wan-niversary to us!

One year ago today, I was sitting in our suite at the Four Seasons Maui, bonding with my bridal party, having hair and nails done, and totally excited about marrying my fabulous fiance.

At this precise moment (allowing for Hawaiian time, of course), we were giggling up a storm, snacking on fun munchies from the club hospitality room, and just being girls (not to mention, I was writing my vows. Procrastinator, anyone?). I just can't believe it's been an entire year already! It seems so long ago, and yet it went by so fast.

I look back and realize how many things have happened over the last twelve months. It's just amazing! And my kid - she just looks so different now, just one year later.

So tonight, we'll head to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to celebrate. It ain't the one in Maui, but it'll do. It'll do just fine.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Rick Beswick, R.I.P.

I found out yesterday that my lawyer, Rick Beswick, passed away Monday morning of a heart attack. Thankfully, he went in his sleep and I hope that means he didn't feel any pain.
This man was an extremely talented lawyer and was very well known in the San Bernardino and Riverside courts. He'd been married to his wife, a former mayor of Redlands, for 44 years, and they had three children.
I didn't actually know Rick all that well aside from hiring him on two occasions, but he was such a great guy. He was wonderful to me, and remembered details about my situation that even I had forgotten! He'd walk into a courtroom and greet everyone from the bailiff to the law clerk, and inquire about their spouses/kids/dogs by name. People were drawn to his magnetic personality, although if you were on the opposite side, you had to watch your ass - because he'd getcha, and getcha good.
The world will be quite a different place without him in it. See ya, Mr. Beswick. We'll miss you.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

thinking about Christmas shopping....

You know, last year we were SO organized with the shopping. I guess it was because we were in the midst of the wedding hoopla, and that was pretty damn micromanaged with its multiple spreadsheets and checklists. So Christmas got thrown right in the mix.

But of course, I can't find the damn file of last year's gift list. This is amazing to me, because I keep EVERYTHING. I think I even backed up all of the wedding spreadsheets and files on CD and threw it into the wedding memorabilia box. Shut up - yes, we have a WEDDING BOX. Ha!

The kid has a specific list, so that'll be really simple:

* a video iPod
*
Vans shoes
* anything from
Hollister
* clothes and shoes from
Sidecca

I'm thinking, if we've got anyone else on the list, I'm going
Martha Stewart on their asses. I hope folks will like the homemade cookies and candy I'll be experimenting on them with. And I hope it doesn't all land in the trash. I'm a good cook, I swear!

Need a great gift list template? Click here. It's the one we used last year!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

yummy, yummy dinner.

I really love to cook. I hate to clean, but cooking is damn fun. I'd love to find somewhere to take some cooking lessons (aside from Sur Le Table , Williams Sonoma, Dream Dinners, or a full-on culinary school), but so far I haven't made that jump yet.

However, I discovered Rachael Ray's magazine....as annoying as I find her, I've got to admit that she has some really cool recipes. Tonight's dinner was a little slice of Hawaii on a plate, and here's the recipe:
"Huli Huli" Chicken

FOUR SERVINGS

Prep Time: 15 min (plus resting)

Cook Time: 40 min


One 4-pound chicken, cut in half
Salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
One 1 1/2-inch piece ginger, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons chicken broth
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons frozen pineapple juice concentrate


1. Loosen the skin of the chicken breast and season underneath it with salt. Season the exterior of the chicken with more salt. Let the chicken rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Line a broiler pan with foil and preheat the broiler.


2. Using a food processor, pulse the garlic and ginger until finely chopped. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, broth, rice-wine vinegar and pineapple juice concentrate and process until well combined. Strain the marinade into a bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract all the liquid. Discard the pulp.


3. Blot the excess salt and moisture from the chicken and place the halves skin side down on the broiler pan. Broil, turning the chicken with tongs every 5 minutes for the first 20 minutes, until the raw surfaces have cooked. Continue to cook, turning and basting with the marinade every 5 minutes, until well browned, 20 minutes longer; cover loosely with foil for the last 10 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve.
Serve with some green beans or broccoli and steamed white rice (I cooked mine with chicken broth and it was oh so fabulous) and voila!

I'm a lard ass.

Damn! I just realized that it's been a solid month since I've set foot in the gym OR in yoga class. Eek.

And with the holidays looming over us for real...I'm in trouble. I can't help but think, though, "maybe I won't HAVE to worry about it pretty soon." [wink wink, nudge nudge]

I'm keeping this short because I have snacks to eat and recipes to peruse.




What?

Oh, and one more thing - here's another card design for you to peruse. Imagine it mounted on a nice, thick white card and tied with pretty white satin ribbon between the photo and the stripes. Aren't they an adorable little family??




Tuesday, November 28, 2006

i'm off today.

Not in the fun, "no work" kind of off - the weird, "I don't know what's wrong with me" off.

I picked up a mint brownie at Starbucks. I ate about 4 bites, plucked the candy off the top, and tossed the rest.

My fabulous new mascara....isn't. And the yummy smelling perfume I bought....isn't so yummy on me.

I just feel blah. Ick. Bleh.

I don't want to go shopping.

I didn't even log on to the Knot until noon!

Why?

I'm going to go home and put my wedding dress and tiara on.

Monday, November 27, 2006

boring, boring weekend

Amazingly enough, I saw no movies this weekend! Other than watching snippets of various movies on cable (classics such as "The Wedding Singer", "Big Daddy", "Mr. Deeds", and everyone's all-time favorite, "Titanic"), it was nothing but errands and cleaning. Boooooo!! But I'm proud to say that we now have fun Christmas lights up, an organized garage, and other fun Christmas decor inside the house too. Yay!

I spent lots of time at Michael's. My nerdy, crafty side is thrilled. My practical, checkbook-balancing side is PISSED. Coupon or not, that was a spending spree I didn't need. Not to mention, I finally cashed in a Sephora gift certificate and ended up spending more money. I better look fabulous after all this new makeup.



I did manage to score on a cool bag of free samples. If you do any shopping on Sephora.com between now and the next couple of weeks, use coupon code "CIRQUE" at checkout.



Um, and if you don't like the free gift, I'll take it. :)



I also spent some time trying to come up with some more card designs.



I'm going to get to SAHM status, dammit!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

gobble, gobble!

Turkey Day was fun. After the craziness of baking turkey cupcakes:


plus the potatoes and mac & cheese (I'm still on the hunt for a good recipe - it wasn't as fab as I'd have liked), it was on to two separate sets of Thanksgiving festivities!


Hope your day of thanks was as fun and family-filled as ours.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

there goes my shot at fame and glory.

It just occurred to me that it's been way more than a week since I had my preliminary phone interview with the Knot/Travel+Leisure. Damn!

Knot Jen posted on the Nest, looking for destination wedding brides to talk about planning a DW, budgeting, etc. So, because I'm an AW, I replied and sent a couple of photos from our wedding. A couple of days later, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email asking for a brief interview to discuss more specifics.

I had that interview on October 30th, on my way home from work. And darn it, I was supposed to have heard after a week.....ish.

Damn near a month later, I hear nothing! Nothing, I tell you! Poop. They picked some other heffa's wedding. Well, ours wasn't really anything unique, I guess. But dammit, it was OURS, and I wanted to see that shit in print!!!

[running off to scotch-tape wedding pictures in Bride magazine]

Ahhhhhh......pretty.

turkey day. in two days.

So I find myself in the position of having to find recipes for three things: cupcakes (that's just a question of narrowing it down!), au gratin potatoes (which I've made before, and now I have to find that recipe again) and baked mac & cheese. There's also the option of picking up some fabulous cream puffs. Somehow, though, that seems a little less personal and fun. I might just save that for another occasion.


I went to a family gathering on Sunday evening and my cousin (again, I'm Filipino; therefore, I have oodles of cousins) said "Dude, you know what would KILL it on Thanksgiving? If you made macaroni & cheese!" I used to make blue-box mac & cheese for this cousin when we were little - and I got him HOOKED :) So just for him....I'm on the hunt for a great recipe that DOESN'T involve powdered neon orange cheese.

And, this is totally random:

I'm going to throw something else into the mix that is my crazy life. I've talked about starting up a business for ages - doing custom invites and cards and things. I even have a partner! So I'm working on an ad to throw on craigslist, and I think I might even create a separate blog, just for the business. I hope I can find all of the photos I took of the cards and invites I've done over the last couple of years! Here's the cards I made for my bridal party (yes, snarkies, I DID "Will You Be" CARDS!):


And here's an invitation I did for a BBQ:

I have a few ideas for a business name....but I'm taking suggestions! I'm stupidly excited about this idea. Like, crazy stupid, and twirling around with fairy dust in one hand and ribbon wands in the other. I know you can picture it.








Sunday, November 19, 2006

snacks, cars, and parades, oh my!

Whew, what a weekend. And it ain't over yet.

The hub and I spent yesterday afternoon at Dodger Stadium in beautiful downtown L.A. He'd gotten an invitation to
Taste of Lexus and managed to score the last two spots for us. Three things:

* Free food
* All the Fiji water (and soda, lemonade, iced tea, coffee, etc.) we could drink
* Test driving all the new Lexus models without any stupid sales pitches to endure

It was quite fabulous. Not to mention that I spent a good chunk of time in the Dermologica-sponsored:


I got a 10-minute chair massage (which I needed more than I realized), a skin analysis (in an attempt to figure out why my forehead looks like a damn constellation these days), and two fistfuls of free samples. I sparkly puffy pink heart free stuff. And then I managed to find the hub to test-drive some fun cars. I've never been a huge Lexus fan, but wow, that LS460 was quite a sweet ride, indeed.

So although I'd stuffed myself with really tasty tidbits (crab cakes, mini vegetable wellington, 3-cheese tortellini, meat on a stick with various dipping sauces), I talked the hub into making our way towards Union Station to find Philippe's. I'd discovered the home of the original French-dipped sandwich over summer vacation with the kid and her BFF, and tortured the hub with a cell phone photo of my fabulous sandwich. I figured, since we were in the area, it was time for him to experience the fabulous beefy goodness for himself, and wash it down with their yummy lemonade. I think he was quite pleased - especially as he managed to catch the tail end of the big game. Not the USC one, but the other one, and because I don't really give a crap, I don't remember who was playing. I was far too engrossed in my sandwich. In fact, as we were crossing the street from the parking lot on our way into the joint, I did the 'jump 'n' clap'.

Me: Aren't you excited for our French dip?
Him: Um, no. [patting me on the head] I don't get excited about food, babe, but it's fun when YOU do. [doing a faux jump 'n clap] I think we need to go to SPRINKLES to make the experience complete!
Me: OMG, really?!?
Him: No, I was just kidding.

This morning, we got to church (yes, heffas, I go to church) really late. With not a single parking spot in sight. The hub turns to me and goes "wanna go get breakfast instead?" Um, duh. So we head towards Pasadena after I tell him that Il Fornaio does breakfast that sounds really yummy.

What ELSE is happening in Pasadena today?

THE DOO-DAH PARADE.

We eat. We walk along Colorado and stop in a few shops (of course, Paper Source was among the spots I just had to visit), and when the parade starts, we stand our happy asses in the 95-degree sun-soaked morning and watch it.

My normally uber-conservative husband found it fascinating. Like, he couldn't tear himself away till it was over. I sweated my ass off, but endured the whole freaking thing. And freaky it was:

And how was YOUR weekend??

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Jumping on the blogwagon....

Okay, so I'm finally going to give this a try. All my friends are doing it! And inexplicably, I woke up at 2:30 this morning and thought, why not? So I weighed the pros and cons of starting my own blog:

Pros

I think it looks fun as hell.
We all know that I'm an attention whore.
I love to write. My mommy says I'm good at it.
It'll give me a reason to take more pictures (as if I needed one). Okay, at least this way I'll actually DO something with said photographs.
Since I'm too lazy to keep a journal, this'll do.

Cons

We all know that I'm an attention whore.
It'll give me a reason to take more pictures.

[looking] Hey......! All right, seriously:

My life isn't that interesting.
I'M not that interesting.
No one will want to read it unless I force 'em to.
It'll create a whole new internet obsession, and everyone and their mother knows that's the last thing I need.

My uncle (okay, technically he was my second cousin, but we're Filipino. Any human with a deep voice and a wee-wee gets called "uncle") passed away two weeks ago, on Halloween. He'd been battling advanced lung cancer for a little over a year, and had lived a healthy life as a non-smoker. Anyway, in the programs handed out at his funeral mass, there was a page printed with text from his online journal. He'd been writing it since the first inkling of trouble, and his family found it on his computer after he died. And I found it incredibly, beautifully, and sadly touching to read how he was feeling, in his own words.

So there you have it. Inspired by Uncle Jimmy, I shall now take up precious space on the worldwide web that should probably go to something or someone more deserving, but eff it. I'm takin' it.

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