navygreen: (Default)
It's been such a nice, long, lazy Thanksgiving break. :-)

By sheer luck, Philip had off from Wednesday-Friday, and having him home all the way until Saturday night (he works midnight shifts) almost felt strange. I bet he's only been off on Thursdays for actual Thanksgiving Day maybe three times in the past almost 13 years of our military life. We celebrated with our friends and neighbors - Tanya, Adam, and Emma - as well as one of Philip's troops, Puckett, and old friends of ours Jan and Payton (while J.R. is temporarily stationed at NCO Academy).

We made enough food for an army, though. Even though there was only 10 of us, I asked everyone to bring food for 30 (explaining the reasons beforehand, of course). You see, the best part about the Thanksgiving feast is having easy-peasy leftovers afterward. We had 30 pounds of turkey, almost ten pounds of ham, two sweet potato casseroles, stuffing, cornbread dressing, candied yams, rolls, green bean casserole, corn, peas, jellied cranberry sauce, 15 pounds of mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry salad. Just like last year, it worked out beautifully: we were able to make three full meals of leftovers before we ran out of sides. I still have about 2 pounds of dark meat turkey I'm going to chop and freeze for tacos or chili later on, as well as three recipes' worth of cubed ham.

I also made two pumpkin pies, a Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake, two Chocolate French Silk Pies, a new cake (which I haven't named yet), and about 100 mini decorated cookies in my brand-new dough creation. I made tiny pumpkins with our names on them, and I made sure everyone took a few home as well.

Emma stole the show for most of the get-together. She's now 19 months old, and she's just too adorable for words. She really cuddled up to Puckett (who's a single airman living in the dorms!), and he was so sweet with her. She climbed up on the chair next to me when I was eating, and she ended up stealing away almost all of my cranberry salad - she loved it! And when Jan was scouring the Black Friday ads and writing out her shopping plan-of-attack, she sidled up next to her and pointed out the toys she was interested in. We were all in love!

Jack's friend Payton spent the night with us so that Jan could do all the midnight Black Friday shopping, and we had a large breakfast late the next morning. (They both fell asleep between 3-4am!) Philip pulled all the bins and boxes out of the storage shed in the garage for me to begin the holiday decorating, and we pretty much did that the rest of the day. Jan came to pick up Payton before dinnertime, and then we went back to decorating. The boys finished their tree entirely, and then they constructed the main tree. A.J. and I took a break and watched The Good Son together (a movie I had seen many years ago), too. After that, I felt too distracted to get back to serious decorating. ;-) I did hang the lights on our main tree while watching both Die Hard and Reindeer Games, and then Philip had to run into the squadron around 4am to clean his weapon.

On Saturday, we did more lazing about, and I finished up some more decorating. We all watched Liar Liar together, and the boys loved the class Jim Carry funnies. I made an easy pantry dinner of tuna casserole and green beans, and we finished off a few pies. Philip took a TON of desserts with him to work, and I was glad to have all the space back in my fridge!

It was 45° today (it's been warm all week), and the boys enjoyed hours of playtime outside. They probably have a few more days they can get away with it, so I encourage it! We've had a bit of snow, but it's all melted, and I'm happy for every warm day we get as a treat. Usually, it snows here in October, and we made it all the way to November 15th before our first snow, and it melted anyway. A blessing!

Last week was crazy-busy, but it was so fun! I threw a last-minute get-together with a bunch of gals for the midnight premiere of Twilight: Breaking Dawn, and I made cookies for the event. We all met at Applebee's for dinner, and then we headed to the theatre around 10:30pm to get in line. We had a great time, even despite one part of the movie that made us all snicker in our seats. ;-)

The next night, Friday, my friend Tifany hosted a Girls' Game Night while her husband was gone, and it was a blast. We played Taboo for hours, and we laughed SO HARD. She had great snacks, and I took a quick chocolate chip cheese idp and graham crackers (I had everything on hand already, and my friend Mary had suggested it while we were waiting for the movie to start the night before).

And then on Saturday night, I hosted Enchilada Night at our house! Tanya, Janelle, and I had been talking about our different enchiladas for weeks, and we decided to have them all together one night to share. Tanya made red enchiladas, Janelle made green, and I made white (the colors of the sauces, I should say). Tanya brought a big pot of Spanish rice, and we all ate together. It was a tasty night, and Jack loved it so much that he's already planning out our next "community suppers," as Tanya calls them. Samantha came over around bedtime and had some leftover enchiladas, and then we girls all watched Friends With Benefits together.

On Sunday, I was beat! Seriously, I think I napped and dozed all day to make up for three parties with three different groups of friends in three consecutive nights!

This coming week should be busy, too. I've got a bunch of cookies to make, as well as HUNDREDS I should be putting online. I need to make two "foodie" posts, and I'm hosting a huge giveaway on my website tomorrow (well, today!) to celebrate both Cyber Monday and my 1000th 'like' on Facebook. I've got two cookie swaps to mail out, and I want to make a bunch of cookies for the Airman's Cookie Drive again this year.

Oh, oh, oh! Aaaaaaand, my cookies made the Top 10 in the L.A. Times 2nd Annual Cookie Bake-Off! (Gosh, I can't believe it took me so long in this post to remember this!) I figured the "crowd favorites" as far as vote-getters would make the Top 10 even when the staff baked the Top 50, so I had been confident in my cookie so long as I remained high in votes. When the voting stopped, I had a 70+ vote lead on my closest competitor (the last time I saw it before the contest was pulled down), but then I waited for days on pins and needles for the baking and judging to take place. Finally, last Monday, the winners were announced! I was SHOCKED to find that the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th place vote-earners did NOT make the Top 10 at all. It was crazy, and I'm SO glad my cookie held up in the judging! I still can't believe all my friends that voted so much for me - thank you ALL!

I've been invited to Los Angeles by the L.A. Times for a publicity photoshoot and a day tour of the facilities in their test kitchens on Dec. 7th. The recipes will be published in the huge holiday edition of the paper on December 15th. There's also another article on the judging HERE. I do wish so badly that I could go, but I absolutely can't afford the travel *to* L.A., so these articles are the end of the line for me. It was still SO EXCITING, and I was calling friends and *squeeeing* when I found out!

Oh, and we received a Christmas card yesterday from [livejournal.com profile] ashen_butterfly! She's the first, as usual. I've still only got my cards addressed, but not written, nor an accompanying newsletter even started!

I'm so happy to see so many of my friends returning to LJ lately. I have been reading, and I'm trying to be better at commenting myself. I don't know how much I'll be able to post in December, but I'm glad to have checked in at least a little bit. :-)
navygreen: ('Affairs:' recap)
It's been so long since I've updated, and I really just don't know where to start!

Cookies are just constant at this point, and I couldn't be more grateful. This creative outlet fell into my lap when I never expected it, and I find so much joy in decorating each set. The easy ones are pleasing, but the challenging designs make me reach beyond my abilities, and I feel like I learn something new each time. It's win-win in my book.

Easter has now come and gone, and it was such a busy, busy week! This is the third year that A.J. has decided he's "too old" for Easter egg hunts, and it is such a bittersweet moment for me as a mom. He's growing up so very much, and so quickly lately, it seems, but I realize that he would rather now be an "adult" and watch the "kids" hunt for eggs. He did, however, pitch in and help Jack and me color Easter eggs on Friday night... with a bit of begging on my part. (I wanted it to be a nice thing we could do together on our night at home while Philip was working.) Once he's doing something, he has a good time, and this was no exception.

Still, I can't bear to think that next year might be Jack's last year to hunt eggs before he makes the same proclamation. Then again, Jack so enjoys being "just a kid" and isn't it quite the same hurry to grow up as A.J. I think it has a lot to do with being the older vs. younger brother, as well as a good deal to do with their completely different personalities.

We attended a big party at our friends' house - the Mendezes. Matt and Amber are always such gracious hosts, and we really enjoy our times there. Jack and Bryce are peas-in-a-pod and usually disappear off to Bryce's room. Among all of their other friends, one of A.J.'s classmates was there as well - a fellow 7th-grader named Kendra. The two of them paired off just as quickly, and we were perfectly content to just gab with all the other folks. I had brought Easter Bunny Bread, sugar cookies, and Pineapple Carrot Cake to share, and all were big hits. I've never actually witnessed an entire platter of my cookies disappear in just a few hours (usually folks take the cookies home or tell me, "They're too pretty to eat!"), but I was overjoyed to see it this time! I came home with lots of empty dishes, and that's the sign of a good party in my book!

Philip has been working on his truck with the help of some friends. I sure hope they figure out whatever is wrong with it, and soon. This next month is extremely busy - we've got A.J.'s track season and Jack's outdoor soccer season going at the same time, as well as two major band performances for A.J., and there's lots of traveling involved, as well as activities at the same time. Eek! On Philip's days off, however, we jumped into a new-to-us series, and have been watching 24. We finished the first season in four days, and we're a few episodes into the second season now. We also recently saw both Arthur and Scream 4 on 'Date Nights,' and we're very much looking forward to this weekend for another night out when Fast Five hits theatres!

I'll try to be better about popping in more regularly. I was so good at the beginning of this year, and now I'm slacking so terribly! *hangs head in shame*

Date Night.

Feb. 9th, 2011 11:25 pm
navygreen: (Twilight: Belward dancing)
We went on a double-date tonight with another couple tonight. Alicia is a friend of mine, and her husband Bill is a friend of Philip's and works with him. Isn't that just perfect?!

We went out to 10 North Main. It's Josh Duhamel's restaurant! I'd been there before with Marissa when her family came to visit for Thanksgiving, and it was great to go again. I'd been wanting to introduce Philip to the place, and Bill and Alicia had been wanting to try it as well. We all dressed up (hair and make-up!), and went out for a nice evening. We stayed until late, until I noticed that we were the only ones left in the restaurant - oops!

We carpooled to town from the base, and once there, they dropped us off at the Dodge dealership, and we picked up my friend Jennie's van for her. We drove that back on our way home tonight and delivered it to her house. (She has two little ones, and her husband is out in the field right now, meaning he's gone for four days or so.)

Now, we're off to catch up on some DVR'd television shows and Netflix. :-)
navygreen: (Twilight: Jacob's eskimo kiss)
So here's something I wonder: why do your nipples stick out when you're cold? I mean, don't "other" things shrink CLOSER to the body when cold? Why do these parts stick all out there, headlighting?!

I went to the February social for the Minot Enlisted Spouses Club tonight. We went as a family for dinner to J.R. Rockers, and then Philip brought the boys home. He came back to pick me up at 8pm when it was over. This month's program was "Speed Friendship." If you've ever heard of "speed dating," it was based on the same principles. It was a good time, and I met even more folks than I met at the December party and social, plus I got to know some quirky things, too!

Philip had yesterday off, and today begins leave for him. He's on leave through the 17th, and then the 18-20th are his scheduled "off" days anyway, so he's basically home all the way until the 21st. I think I'm going to teach him how to decorate cookies so he can help me this month!
navygreen: (Popcorn)
Oh, last night was so wonderful! I can't believe so many turned out (10 ladies!), but I just had the best time with all my girlies. :-)

The eleven of us made a ruckus upstairs while the boys tore it up with their friend Payton downstairs. Tanya was on-top-of-things and thought to bring her blender over, too - it was much-needed and well-appreciated! Once everyone arrived, the two of us set to work making milkshakes for a crowd. We made vanilla, chocolate, "light" chocolate, and "Elvis" milkshakes between our two blenders. We used about six quarts of ice cream!

Since this was a "Girls' Popcorn Night," I had planned snacks accordingly. I made two large batches of caramel popcorn yesterday. I served one plain, but I drizzled the second batch with both dark and white chocolates. I made a batch of "Poppy Chow," substituting popcorn for the Chex cereal (the chocolate-peanut butter-powdered sugar mix), and I also served cheddar cheese popcorn (from this year's Boy Scout buy). We were all snacking so much I forgot to pop the regular buttered popcorn, even!

My friend Amber brought an amazing spinach-and-bacon dip, as well as homemade green salsa and chips. Jennie brought over some fabulous rice krispie treats, too. And two nights before, Tanya had helped me to make some popcorn-themed cake pops. We used my leftover crumbled Swiss chocolate cake and candy bar cream cheese frosting to combine them, and then we shaped them into tiny "buckets." I dipped them in in red candy melts, then painted white candy melt stripes on, and then topped them with a bunch of marshmallow popcorn that we made together as well.

They were very tasty, but they weren't so pretty, and we decided against a photoshoot! ;-)

Rebecca and Felecia ended up having to leave before we even got the movie queued up, but I was glad they both made it out for at least a couple hours. We watched Love & Other Drugs, and it was very, very good. It had a lot of really funny moments (I hadn't been expecting that), and of course, a lot of really great "eye candy" moments (I had definitely been expecting that!). We all enjoyed it a lot! Lynn, Victoria, Valeen had to leave at the halfway point (about midnight or so), and then Serina ended up leaving about thirty minutes later (her 5-month-old baby boy was beginning to get fussy, and she wanted to get him to bed). After the movie, Tanya had to split to wake early this morning for work, but Jan, Jennie, and Amber stayed and chatted for a while longer. They left close to 2am, and then I cleaned things up afterward. I was finally done at almost 2:30am!

It was so fun, and I'm so glad my friends ventured out in the cold/wind to come. I sure hope to plan another fun night in the future!
navygreen: (Birthday!)
Whew! Today has been run-run-run, I swear! I worked on cookies until almost 7am this morning (after having a 2+ hour-long phone call between 1:30-3:30am!), and then I went to bed when Philip came home. At noon, I started shifting awake and got up to take pictures of the cookies.

(It's all about the cookie photoshoots, people. You know that by now.)

The cookies were for a birthday bash tonight. My friend Jennifer's 40th, and it was a surprise. It was snowing-and-blowing, so I got on the road extra early to make sure I beat the guest-of-honor to the restaurant. I also had to stop and get a card on the way, too. I tucked in a gift certificate to her fave coffee joint in her card, and I was signing it at the table just minutes before she arrived!

It was a wonderful time, and now I'm home, but just for a moment. I'm headed across the street for a late start into my neighbor Valeen's "girls night" now! What a crazy Saturday!
navygreen: (Christmas - Robbie)
I'm taking just a moment from un-decorating the house for Christmas to post a little bit. I realized I had not used this icon this holiday season, and well... to let such an opportunity pass would be a shame. If nothing else, I know [livejournal.com profile] mostcurious will love it. *wink*

The boys and I were treated to lunch today in town by our sweet friends, the Paini family. They had "booked" us for lunch, wanting to thank us for everything we do for them. It was so very non-necessary, but we were so touched! We ate at Mi Mexico, and it was wonderful as usual. Philip worked last night and so was sleeping through lunch today, but he's not fond of Mexican food, either. He appreciates the gesture but considers the food a non-loss. Silly boy - Mexican fare is *always* a treasure!

A.J. and Jack helped me with un-decorating all afternoon and evening, and then we had leftovers from the parties two nights ago for dinner. It was nice to have our dining room table back in the center of the room again for this meal (we had pushed it to a far wall to make room for the boys' full-size tree this year), even if it was just leftovers. The only thing I have left to do myself at this point is strip the family tree of its lights and tuck it away. I've stacked all of the bins/tubs of decorations in the hallway by the garage for Philip to stow in the shed room tomorrow when he gets home from work. He will be very pleased to have missed all of these parts, though!

I've been deep-cleaning while I take things down, and it feels so vastly different to me already. I absolutely adore my Christmas things, but there are so many trinkets and statuary that I can't really dust around, so I enjoy a massive dust-and-clean session while re-decorating with our regular home decor.

For dessert tonight, the dear Painis blessed us again - with fresh "Snow Cream" they had just made! It was our first time having snow cream, but it definitely won't be the last this winter season. We've got plenty of fresh snow at all times, it seems, and this was just too tasty of a treat. From the "recipe" they gave me, it should be quite easy to make, too. I'm very jazzed about it!

Well, it's time to return to the task at hand and get those lights down. I think I'm going to plop down with a nice movie as my reward tonight, too. :-)
navygreen: (Snowflake)
Today has been the laziest of days. My shoulders/neck/upper back area is quite tense, and I'm sure I didn't help things along by standing at the counter for a while earlier. I was seeding two pomegranates, as well as sectioning four grapefruits and eleven oranges. Still, I'm glad the fruits are done. I love to eat any of these in the mornings, but I'm too groggy at the time to get into such labor-intensive foods. Now, I'll just need to open the container and dig in!

I haven't made cookies in several days. It feels... weird.

Dinner last night with friends was amazing. We sat at the restaurant gabbing for almost three hours - and that was with all of our kids! I can't believe they weren't running for the doors, but I think they were perfectly content to gab on their own with each other, too. It was just a great, perfect opportunity for all involved.

We're having a winter storm right now, and I would bet that we've already had 8" of snowfall since 4pm or so this afternoon. It should continue until tomorrow morning, but then we're supposed to have 50mph winds, too. My neighbor's mom is coming in tomorrow to spend New Year's with them, and I hope that her plane can still arrive safely tomorrow night.

I still have my Christmas decorations up, and while I do want them down for cleaning, I don't want to go back to just regular home decor yet. It's much too early for Valentine's Day (despite what the stores/shopping centers would have me believe already), and I just love my holiday things. Still, I would love to be able to shut my window for computer time during the day, too...
navygreen: (Christmas - Coke lights)
Once again, it is just gorgeous out today, and we're going to head into town and get some things knocked off our list because of it. The weather is supposed to be all snow-and-doom-and BLIZZARD for the next few days afterward, so today is probably my one chance to get the car washed for the next couple months or so.

(Yes, it will get dirty again from the snow, but the point is that it still has to be cleared off SOME in-between all the months of snowy weather. Plus, I have a white coat, and I have to be very careful getting in/out of the car.)

We're going to head to Hobby Lobby and see the sales, and then the boys are dying to get to Walmart and spend their Christmas cash which is hot in their pockets. We'll also swing by Hallmark and grab some thank-you notes for all of us. Let me tell you, there are lots of holiday thank-yous to be written for the many blessings this past weekend!

We might get to meet up with my friends Jan and Dawn, as well as their kids, for dinner at Ground Round, too. We all live on base, but we'll all be doing the errand thing in town, and we're all planning on dinner while we're down there. Philip and I went there once for a lunch date, but the boys have never been. It should be fun!
navygreen: (Christmas - socks)
It's such a wonderful, warm day out today! It's about 37° right now, and consider that is almost 70° warmer than we were last week - wow! The boys are out playing in the snow with friends, and Philip is carving away a bit more snow at the end of the driveway, to make it easier to manage pulling in. You have to take advantage of the warmer days to clear extra snow as much as you can!

We just finished up the leftovers from Christmas Day dinner with our friends, Jennifer and Dennis and their family. We had Jennifer and her kids (they're actually 20 and 17!) over for Thanksgiving, and they returned the favor for Christmas since Dennis had returned home. We met another couple - Clint and Alicia - and they were so charming as well. I think we all had a great time, and we laughed for hours on end. As we said our goodbyes at the end of the night, the guys had ranked three wins on Wii Pictionary over the girls... even though we had tougher/better drawings! Oh, and that Wii tablet is really difficult to work with compared to a pencil and paper! So yeah, we'll blame our losses on the equipment. *wink*

I made my first lasagna as my contribution to the Christmas feast, and it turned out wonderful. I didn't take a picture for "food porn" purposes, as I thought it would be rude to show up with a casserole with a piece missing! I also made a new cheesecake for dessert - Peppermint Chip Cheesecake - and I didn't take a photo of it either, for the same reasons. I guess I'll have to make both again sometime so that I can document them in pictures. Such is the life of a food blogger!

I worked a bit last night on cookie pictures, getting up several from the last month or so. I uploaded over 40 cookies just from December, and I still have two Christmas sets left to do! I'm so desperate behind in journaling them, though. So many cookies seem to never see the light of the internet! Currently, I can't work on pictures during the day because the desktop monitor faces the large window in the office. Normally, I would just shut the window and proceed, but the large family Christmas tree is in that window, and shutting the blinds is not an option. I've not decided yet whether I'll take my decorations down this week or wait until after New Year's... but for now, I can't see my screen well enough during the day for pictures.

I need to run a few things to the post office for now, so I'm off!
navygreen: (Birthday!)
Who knew turning 31 would be such a fun deal?!

On Saturday, I was having a very low-key day, and that was A-OK with me, having planned it as my only "break day" among many, many busy ones. My only real plan was to deliver a set of cookies as a thank-you to the folks who allowed me to use their yard for these photographs a few weeks before - to drive up there, deliver them, and return. Easy-peasy.

I had mentioned this plan a few days earlier in the week, intending to do it on Thursday. Philip asked me to wait until Saturday so that he could go with me. I really didn't want to wait, wanting the cookies to be as fresh as possible, but he begged nicely. So, I waited. On Saturday, however, I did a favor online for another friend, and while I thought it would be a quick, 10-minute gig, it turned into over an hour, pushing me closer to dusk than I had intended. Finally, around 4:15pm, we set out for the drive north.

On the way, I chatted about this or that, and I accidentally missed the turn. (Remember that we had, essentially, been lost when we found the place too? It's not well-known for having large, distinguishable markers.) Philip seemed a bit exasperated, but I found it upon correction, and we traveled the road. I pointed out the "old farmhouse," and he began to turn, but I cried out, "Wait! The reindeer are further up the road, and that's what you wanted to see!" He sighed and continued driving the road. Once we neared the reindeer in the field, I was gobsmacked that he didn't even turn in to look at them. I fussed, "Don't you want to get out and see them? They're even closer than before!"

He begrudgingly pulled over, and we paused for all of thirty seconds. Then he backed out and returned to the highway. I was flabbergasted. "Why did he even want to come if he doesn't actually want to SEE anything?!" I thought to myself. A few miles up, we passed the old farmhouse again, and I practically had to steer the wheel myself to get him to turn in, to look at the adorable little town. Even then, he was in such a rush. When we passed the field of old, abandoned buildings and windmills, I urged him to pull over. I wanted to show him the old vehicles and treasures we had seen. He insisted he didn't "want to trespass," even as I explained that we had trespassed the entire time while taking photos!

It was a quiet ride back to the base. I was thinking to myself how ridiculous it was that he had ever even wanted to come, to see the little place, for he sure didn't enjoy it in any fashion. "Just ridiculous!" I thought, and I wished I had come alone. About ten minutes before we got home, my phone rang. It was my neighbor, Tanya, and she wanted me to stop by when I got back home because she had a present for me, she said.

Okay. I thought it was bit strange, as she had come over for chats just earlier that afternoon, showing me the new photobook she had ordered with their new pictures in it. If there was a gift, why hadn't she brought it then? Still, I figured, "Maybe she went out and got something in the last two hours?" I agreed, but I was puzzled. When we arrived home, I got out of the car and headed for our inside door, but Philip stopped me.

"You're supposed to go to Tanya's house."
"Yes, I know, but I want to put my purse in the house," I said, exasperatedly.
"I'll do it," he barked, as he took it from me.
"And I don't want to wear my big coat over there. It's always really warm in her house," I said, as I started to shed my coat.
"Just go!"
"Fine!"

And I was really getting TICKED! I mean, "I just spent 45 minutes with you because you BEGGED me to wait for you for this one task, and then you didn't even APPRECIATE any part of it! Now you're ordering me around?!" Ohhhhh, I was ticked!

Tanya had her vehicle door open in her garage, so I walked right in. Just as I was about to knock on her door, I noticed that Philip was following me, right behind me, in fact. I smarted off over my shoulder, a bit loudly, "She didn't ask for YOU to come over, you know. She just asked for ME." He didn't reply, and I raised my hand to knock.

The door flew open, and... ""SURPRISE!" Oh my goodness, everyone was there! They were all waving and clapping, fun written on their faces at seeing my reaction, as well as giggling having just overheard my retort to Philip! In just two seconds, I was overwhelmed, trying to see everyone... and then my boys popped out from behind the door! Even THEY had been in on the surprise!

It turns out the plan had been in place for over a week. Tanya had actually discussed things with A.J. before she had a chance to run into Philip, even. My sneaky kid! As soon as Philip and I had left, she had sent her husband over to my house to gather my barstools and the boys. In fact, the boys had played "lookouts" in her kitchen window. At the time we came into our driveway, Adam (Tanya's husband) told me they had snatched Jack from the window, yelling, "Get down, get down!" I had never noticed a thing!

When Tanya had come over earlier in the day, I had been talking on the phone with Heather. Hindsight, it *was* strange that she walked in, waved at me and mouthed, "Keep going, I'm good," and then headed directly to the living room. When I got off the phone, I joined her in the living room, thinking it a bit weird that she was crouched on a stool right next to Philip's head when there were plenty of couch seats available. She was being sneaky even then!

Now, I can't complain too much, as I helped her husband hide a birthday gift for her last month for weeks and weeks beforehand. He contacted me before even ordering the item, and then it was delivered to my house instead. I kept it hidden for a month, and then I sneaked over one afternoon and helped him wrap the large box. I also secretly made her birthday cookies and her favorite dessert, and I kept secret that her mother was flying in for the weekend. (Her mama had contacted me and asked me to bake a birthday cake, too.) In other words, we are great neighbors - always sneaking around each other!

My friends had gathered and made a potluck for the event. Val made my favorite of her dishes - her special meatloaf. Jennie made yummy cucumber sandwiches, and Tanya served up my favorite punch and chicken salad sandwiches. Lynn had made a gorgeous cake, and there were cranberry-and-pineapple meatballs, too. Everything was absolutely delicious - even better because I didn't have to make it!

We all ate and chatted for a bit. All the kids disappeared to the living room and watched Harry Potter on TV while we did. I'm not sure what the guys ended up doing, and then we girls parked ourselves in Tanya's dining room. Another guest, Nicole, took pictures during everything for me, as did the local Blackberry addicts. *wink* I'm thankful they did, for I sure didn't have my camera with me!

After a bit, Tanya came in with the cake, candle lit and everyone began singing. The boys all rushed from from the living room to sing as well. I forgot to make a wish! Oh, but the cake was to die for: yummy red velvet with cream cheese frosting, and a surprise center of vanilla pudding! I served up uneven, lop-sided pieces to everyone (I told them I was horrible at serving cake, but they insisted!), and we all enjoyed it.

A bit later, I was brought several gifts to open. Gifts! I never even dreamed! My friends were so thoughtful and sweet, and I loved every single thing. We chatted some more, and I got to spend some quality snuggling time with my baby girl Emma before we began wrapping up the party. I had FIVE cups of punch, and I brought the last bit home, but I did leave the last two pieces of cake (though I wished I had them the next morning for breakfast!). I had hugged everyone when I first arrived, and I gave out more hugs to each person as they left. What wonderful friends!

And now, some pictures courtesy of my friends. Fair warning: I am completely dorky in all of them, but really? That's nothing new. *grin*

3


More. )

It was such an amazing surprise, and I really had no clue. Looking back, there are lots of things that now "pop" into place, and I feel badly for being upset with Philip for the drive that afternoon. We laughed over it, though, once I was finally let in on the secret! :-)
navygreen: (CSI: Wolfe - button)
Philip's friend just called and asked me to walk him through recipes and ingredient lists for making duck in a crockpot. He hunted one last week, and it's been in his freezer (he's a young airman and lives in the dorms). He'll be stopping by tomorrow for me to help him assemble everything, plus use a couple spices and whatnot. It just seemed silly to make him buy poultry seasoning, bouillon cubes, and Worcestershire sauce when he needs such small amounts, and I already have them on hand. I hope it turns out tasty for him!

We made Philip's favorite dish for dinner tonight - Orechiette with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe (though it was made with Farfalle instead). It was the first time in over a year that we've had it, and it was so, so, so good! After all this time searching, we finally found a market that carries just a small amount of the star vegetable. (Even in Nebraska, it was only carried seasonally, and the last time we had it was mid-summer 2009.) We like pairing it with icy cold cherry tomatoes, and it is delish! We are all stuffed, and we shared some with our neighbors, too. It reheats well, so I think they'll love it tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my friend Jennifer just called and asked for my help tomorrow. She sold a bed on Craigslist, and will be delivering it. The buyers live up north about 20 more miles, but her husband is gone, and she doesn't feel comfortable traveling to a stranger's house alone. I don't blame her one bit, and we'll have a nice chat-chat while going. It'll be fun. :-)

Philip and I had tentative plans to see Paranormal Activity 2 with friends at midnight tomorrow night, but it's actually not showing at our theatre then (despite the website stating there is a midnight premiere. We'll probably try to catch the earliest matinee on Friday before he heads to work later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, our friends can't make it then. I think we're still on tap to see Saw 3D with them next week, though.
navygreen: (Fall: pumpkin)
I had spent the most lovely, happy of days hanging out with my besties and their beautiful, fun children. The only thing missing in my life on that day was my special AnnieMcFranniePants and her little family.

The memories are so vivid, so wonderful, and today, so bittersweet!

Our little animals.
Lily, John, Jack, A.J., and Catherine.


Vala's Pumpkin Patch was an annual tradition during our years in Nebraska. We went to the patch each of our eight fall seasons, and it only was better and better each year. Most years, we also went on a separate trip to the smaller Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Patch as well. Still, Vala's was the big ticket.

This last year, we set out to enjoy everything "one last time," and we made every second count. Heather and her family were moving to New Mexico the next week (which is why we visited Vala's the first weekend it opened in the season), and we were headed to North Dakota two months after. Marissa brought Lily for her first real "Patch experience," and she was just the perfect age to dig in and enjoy. It was an amazing day!

There is no way I can condense this post to just a few pictures, so I'm going to put most everything behind a cut. [livejournal.com profile] katielovesmatt, this is the place your dreams are made of!

So many pictures! )

Taking a picture here one last time.
Taking a picture under the 'Pumpkin Moon' one last time, on one last year.


*sniffles*
navygreen: (Fall: pumpkin)
Friday was a whirlwind of school, running errands, and then A.J.'s parade in town for marching band. I already posted about that, but I have so much to post from the rest of the weekend!

Saturday was crazy-busy cleaning day. We all cleaned together, each of us doing certain chores. We rewarded ourselves with a lovely, planned playdate that afternoon with friends and a very special snack: Banana Crunch Muffins, Peanut Butter Banana Bites, and Harry Potter's Butterbeer!

*geeks out*

Oh, it was all so, SO good. The kids were smacking their lips, and we were all on a sugar high - fantastic! The kids continued to play together for a few hours, and then A.J. received an impromptu birthday sleepover invitation for another friend. He left for that, while Philip and Jack went shooting with one of Philip's buddies from work. Jack came home with some shells and the things he'd blown up, and there were tales of the evening. I had made a yummy roast, and we had a cozy dinner with Philip's friend staying for supper.

On Sunday, we woke bright and early and drove down to Bismarck to visit the pumpkin patch. There's a couple small patches more local, but this one was rumored to be the largest around the west side of North Dakota. We were not disappointed! It was super-cheap to get in, and we all had a good time. Even after Jack "broke his butt," we kept on having fun. (That's a story in itself!) We played in the autumn spectacles, had lunch, played some more, had a snack of cookies and cocoa, then picked our pumpkins and headed home. That night, we had a warm beef stew waiting for us from Saturday night's delicious roast - yum!

Yesterday practically continued the weekend, I swear. With the exception of the boys heading to school, it still felt like it to me! Since we had already visited the pumpkin patch, I was in the mood to get full-on decorated for fall. Philip brought in all the bins from the storage room in the garage, and I busied myself putting up my fall pretties while waiting on the maintenance man to come fix my oven. It was such a treat to unpack everything - it had been two years since I last decorated for fall and Halloween (last year, we were moving, so we didn't decorate in that last month). I baked up a batch of cookies for a special order, and by 10:30am, I was STARVING. I think I inhaled my BLT for lunch while Philip played his new birthday video game. Heehee!

When the boys came home, they were amazed to see the transformation inside and outside the house. I had hung lights and put decorations in the yard - it was all complete. It was so fun to turn on my Halloween lights last night and feel really festive. Since it wasn't a "soccer night," I took the boys into town to a beautiful park and took some fall portraits of them. I'll work on them soon. :-)

Today, I finished up the pictures from that sweet, newborn baby boy I photographed last week. His mama was overjoyed with all of them, and I couldn't be happier! I burned a Raspberry-Vanilla three-wick candle on the table most of the day, and I watched Ginny (the cat) nearly try to light herself on fire when she tried to make sense of the dancing flame! I made fried chicken for dinner, and then after the boys went to bed, I settled in and watched the season premiere of GLEE. I saved this week's episode of Parenthood to watch while Philip is off these next two nights.

We're having dinner guests tomorrow night, and I think the day will be fairly busy, too. I need to head to the commissary, as well as prep something for dessert for them. My friend Valeen's husband is deploying to Guam for six months, and we wanted to have a farewell dinner with them before he leaves. Wednesday was the best bet since Jack has another soccer game on Thursday. He's in charge of snacks this week too, so I'll finish those up tomorrow as well.

I have literally TONS of pictures that need to be posted from this weekend. I'll never catch up!
navygreen: (Cars: life is a highway)
We've actually been back for about a week now, having arrived around 9pm on Tuesday night, the 10th. However, my parents stayed for an extra few days, and they didn't leave until Saturday after lunch. Then, I set to work reclaiming and organizing my home, as well as putting away all new trip goodies and such.

I got my first speeding ticket a few hours from home. We'd been in my parents' new SUV the entire trip, and it was the first time I was driving it. Not only that, but it was in middle-of-nowhere North Dakota, and there hadn't been a posted speed limit in a long, long time (my mom and I had been looking for one). It was a two-lane road (which I hate, as it scares me to pass), and I had been stuck behind a semi-truck for miles. I would peek to the left, then scoot back to my lane when I could see a car on the horizon. Finally - finally! - I dared to pass, and I floored it as I did. (It terrifies me to pass big trucks, but even moreso when I'm on a two-lane road. In fact, I'm pretty sure this was my very first time doing so EVER.) And, BAM! A cop sitting just at the end of the horizon clocked me going 83mph. Of course, though the speed limit most places in North Dakota is 70 or 75, in this zone it was only 65mph. As the officer approached the car, I couldn't even figure out how to roll down the window! (Remember, it wasn't my vehicle.) He was a nice guy though, and he dropped the speed to 80/65, so my fine was only $45 instead of something outrageous.

He also cautioned me that, when passing, I should never have to exceed the speed limit to safely do so. Riiiiiiight.

I received a request for impromptu family portraits for a friend here on the last day of our vacation (as we were driving home, in fact), so I squeezed that in while my parents were here. I met them at a park in town and took some lovely portraits. It was a fun evening, and I hope to get back there soon with my boys. I know they would love the place!

11
(To see the rest of the photos from the Mott/Vance Family set, click HERE.)


The boys start school next week on Thursday, the 26th, and two days ago we headed into town to pick up all the school supplies, new shoes, etc. Their backpacks are set and ready-to-go, and now we just wait for the teacher lists to go up and orientation night (to drop off all the supplies). A.J.'s middle school supply list had some unexpected things on it: Silly Putty, camo pants, and a black T-Shirt, to name a few. I'm curious to see how these things are used during the year.

The morning after we arrived home, I took my parents to the commissary for a quick shop of just the three nights' worth of meals while they were here. As always, they found several goodies and deals in our commissary that they stocked up on. After they left, I was set to meal-plan and create a list for the next 18 days... and I just didn't have the *oooomph*, ya know? I was dragging and procrastinating, and I jokingly wrote on Facebook that I was too exhausted to think about dinner. The next thing I knew, my neighbor across the street showed up with a hot, fresh meatloaf for our entire family! I threw together corn, side salads, and fresh strawberries, and we were set! It was very awesome and very sweet of her to do that for our family. :-)

The boys have played nonstop with their friends since arriving back home. A.J.'s closest friend is a boy entering high school this year, and the two of them cruise the neighborhood on foot, walking and talking for hours. Jack and his best bud are scooter fanatics, and they are inseparable. Currently, in fact, I can hear Jack and his friend Riley singing the Indiana Jones theme song while they build with LEGOs in my basement. Thank you, John Williams, for an endearing classic. *wink*
navygreen: (School)
This morning was 'Breakfast & A Book' again at the boys' school. We all went, and while there, I also gifted their teachers with some cute, homemade goodies (to be shared about in a separate entry). I then walked the halls and gave the rest away to other teachers that happened to be milling about, as well as the entire office staff and the librarian. Then A.J. headed off to class, and Philip and I brought Jack home for a little bit.

The boys had their regular dentist check-ups yesterday, and Jack needed to go back this morning to have some sealants done. He's got the same substantial "grooves" on his molars that A.J. did years ago, and they want to prevent cavities in those grooves by sealing them now. I took him to that appointment, and then back to school before 9:30. While in the office, another teacher was asking me about the goodies, saying she'd already heard about them from several folks. Fun!

Then I went back at 11:00 for my regular Wednesday lunching with the boys. I'd forgotten to look at the school menu, so I had all my fingers crossed that it was something good... TACOS! I can always support tacos. ;-) A.J.'s group of friends was particularly talkative today, and that was fun. I had put a special, sealed bag in his friend Jade's desk early that morning, and she was BEGGING me to tell her what was in it. I shook my head, and promised her it was worth the wait! Then Jack's group of friends is always so much fun, and I love knowing all of them by name, and continuing individual conversations with the kids from week-to-week. Today, I let his friend Noah Dettmer know that I had *just* spoken with his mom and RSVP'd for the fun 'Mystery Theater' birthday party he's throwing this Saturday. He was very excited, and was *fist-pumping* the air. :-)

As I headed to the office, I was stopped by a few more folks, asking about the goodies. I apologized, saying I was now fresh out, but they still wanted to know how to make 'em. Then it became a baking jamboree discussion in the office, and I love that so many are so interested!

A.J. asked if we could head to Borders after school, and I've got a Bath & Body Works birthday giftcard burning a hole in my pocket, as well as a birthday giftcard to Wheatfield's, so... sounds like a plan to me!
navygreen: (Tatting)
I am so in love with this new song. Truly.

Today was a happy day. My friend Liz called me just after 1pm. Her husband had taken the kids to the zoo, and she was up for chatting. Chatting turned into a discussion of tatting, and then the discussion turned into an excursion to get more supplies for my vacation tatting projects.

We stopped by Runza to get a reimbursement check I was due, and then to the bank, and then we set out for our impromptu afternoon. We lunched late at Qdoba (a first for both of us) and enjoyed the best burritos either of us had ever had, and then we shared a brownie. Next, we drove to Mangelson's, where we both stocked up on nifty thread colors we can't usually find. Leaving, she spotted a Bernina sewing store in the same plaza, so we popped in for her to pick up a few more bobbins and needles. Then we headed down to Hobby Lobby for more shuttles and even more thread for me (I was looking for a very specific teeny thread). I also found a tatting book, and I bought it straight-away. (In my experience, tatting finds are so very rare that I've learned not to walk away from them for a "next time.") Liz found a new basket must-have for her thread collection, and then we called it quits - we put locks on our wallets!

We returned home just after 6pm, too. Who knew that a phonecall would turn into all of that?! I began one project within half an hour of walking in the door, and Philip and I quasi-watched a TV show while I worked on it. (I was propped up on the pillows, and he was propped up on me.)

I have a VERY long, very tedious, very difficult tatting project "idea" milling about in my head. I sketched out some pieces of it last night, and I showed it to Liz. Of course, she's my tatting cheerleader and somehow thinks that I can do just about anything, despite my efforts to explain to her my very basic skills. So... we'll see if that "idea" ends up turning into a real project, or if it'll just stay in my head for years to come - eep!
navygreen: (Me: Nicole - egg)
We had folks over for a cookout a couple weekends ago, and I was just awestruck at the beautiful strawberries after I washed them (they'd had mud on them before I began rinsing and preparing them, you see). They were "picture perfect!"

See?



A handful more pictures of the gorgeous, snackin' strawberries. )

[livejournal.com profile] beanpop.

Apr. 12th, 2008 05:17 pm
navygreen: (Default)
I'm making chicken fried steak tonight. Are you, [livejournal.com profile] beanpop? ;-)

I'm making a special housewarming dinner for Brett and Chris tonight, celebrating their new apartment. The boys will eat at a regular time, after church, and then Philip and I will eat with the guys when they come over around 10pm.

Chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, green beans, and rolls. Banana pudding is for dessert. Everything is by request. :-)
navygreen: (Food)
Remember when I posted that Heather made me chickie soup earlier this week? Well, I took pictures as the soup was steaming on the stove, just before portioning out bowls of the golden goodness. Mmmmmmmm!

Nothing tastes so good as the love she put inside. :-)



Four more pictures. )

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