Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas. I'll have pictures and updates in a few days!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

**Important Announcement**

My birthday is in one week! Woohoo! That's all...just wanted to share. :P

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another Funeral

We have another funeral to attend this week (the 3rd since September). This is another young person. I don't know any of the details, but it sure puts a damper on the holidays. My heart goes out to Chris' (aka DO) family during this time and I know there are so many friends who will miss him.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Power Failure

It's been crazy windy this weekend and we lost power last night. For 4-5 hours. I'm not sure how long, but all the frozen stuff was still frozen and all the refrigerated stuff was still cold. Power came back on about 20 minutes before the alarm went off this morning (thank goodness for battery back-ups, huh?). Anyway, the house was a smidgen cold when I dragged myself out of bed. *sigh*

So, we had a busy weekend. Friday night I was up until midnight cleaning the house first and then wrapping presents. I'm like 99% done with everything. I feel like I've been 99% done with everything for like 3 I obviously wasn't that far along before. I've never felt so far behind like I do this year. Sheesh!

Anyway, on Saturday morning, I had to get up much too early so I could get showered and get to my friend Belynda's house. We were carpooling for our morning tea reservation. Becky and Christina also rode with us and we met Sze-kei. It was a cute place and yummy. YUMMY! And then we hit the fudge shop next door so I could pick up a few hostess gifts. Smelled delish in there, of course!

After tea, I had to book it home to get a few things done. PJ had taken on the task of cleaning up the leaves. Since the sycamore tree in the backyard is finally bare, we knew we needed to get to task. They were predicting a wintery mix for the afternoon, so PJ bit the bullet and started on it. PJ's brother, Chris, came by right after I got home. He had to drop something off for us and had a few things to pick up (his crock pot, for one!). Then we all chatted for about an hour while I pretended to think about doing laundry. Once he left, I threw a load into the washing machine and went to take a nap. PJ decided to nap too. Joe called at about 530 (45 minutes before we planned to get up), but we weren't able to get together with him since we had plans at 7pm for a Christmas party that we had already RSVP'd to. And it was dinner (YUM) and 21 and over only.

We went to Mo's party and it was a good time. Got to see a few friends we hadn't seen much and catch up. Got home very late...oh around 230am. zzzzzzz! Oh, and that wintery mix turned out to be only rain. Lots of rain!

Sunday, PJ had to do his Christmas shopping since he's seriously running out of time. And since we're opening gifts this coming Saturday, he's REALLY pressed. So, once I managed to push him out of bed, I went back to sleep until...oh, 1230pm! sheesh! I then lazily watched something on the classic movie channel and finally at 2pm, decided I should get into the shower. I mean, we did have somewhere to be at 4pm!

PJ and I left around 4pm for Glory Days where they had a mini 10th anniversary party. It was very mini. And so we chowed down on some chips and queso and then headed to another Christmas party.

This Christmas party was hosted by Tim and Lori. Tim and Lori are Mike's in-laws. Mike is PJ's boss. We met Tim and Lori at Mike's house last summer. Our friends Kelly and Chris walked into the party about 10 minutes after we did. **shock!** Apparently Chris works for Tim. So small world! Anyway, we only stayed a couple of hours since I had to pick up Ethan by 8pm to get him ready for the next day. And so PJ went out to watch football after changing and I did some laundry and then went to bed. And when PJ came home, I found out about our little power issue.

Thank goodness the power is back now. I'm cooking dinner in the slow cooker today! Phew!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Potluck Pictures

I'm a little bit behind. I've been dogsitting for a few days and that has kept me very busy. Anyway, I don't have much to post are the pictures from the potluck and also of us girls who went to see the Nutcracker.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sixteen Days until my Birthday

I'll have a more exciting post later... One with pictures since we just had our holiday potluck, but I'm too busy to download pics. Hope you had a great weekend. Just about two weeks left to buy me a gift! HAHAHA!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Snowball Fight!

snowball fight!
Originally uploaded by melissahaas01
Yep, we got our first snow last night. And the kids built a fort and had a snowball fight. No definitive teams existed, it was everyone against everyone. Today, there's a two hour delay for school. Thank goodness it's a quiet week at work.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Important December Updates

First of all, let me throw out birthday wishes to my December peeps.

Nickel, 12/25. He'll be one!
and um... ME! 12/26...what'd you buy me??? :P
I know there are extended family members with December birthdays, but I can't keep everyone straight. Happy Birthday to anyone with a December birthday!

Secondly, an easy (and free) way to encourage our soldiers:
Say Thanks

Finally, I'd like to note that Chef Ethan was in the house last night. He helped me saute a couple of chicken breasts, then he put in garlic, lemon and lime juices, mandarin oranges and chunk pineapple (with juice) and a smidgen of SunnyD and let it simmer for a while. Then he made Jasmine Rice and Brussel Sprouts. It was delicious!!

On Monday night, we had Steak Cups. I made it up, but it was good (eye of round steaks mashed thinner then put into a muffin tin. Then I sauted onions, mushrooms, garlic and spinach and spooned it into the "cups" and then I put a little cream of mushroom soup on top and parmesean cheese. baked it for like 15 minutes. the cups held their shape!). We had peas and loaded baked potatoes along with it.

Tonight, we're having Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo. I've been craving it for about a week now. I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Walnut Brittle Syrupy Sundae Topping

So, I had this brilliant idea this year to make Cooking Light’s Walnut Brittle Recipe as Christmas gifts. It’s not “good” for you, but it’s not so terribly bad for you as candy goes. I thought it was a good compromise.

Well, the kids and I worked on it…we followed the instructions to a T, except I didn’t have a candy thermometer…when we were done, it didn’t harden like it was supposed to. I thought maybe I missed something, so I stuck it in the freezer. I then left it out and guess what, still not solid. So, I put it into the oven and baked it for a few minutes. It got deliciously hot and bubbly, but it didn’t harden. It has the consistency of honey. It looks like Smucker’s Walnuts in Syrup.

So, once it cooled, I poured it all into a container and refrigerated it. After a bit of thought, I decided to put it into jars and give it away as syrup instead. Once refrigerated, it acts like cold honey…hard to pour. This has turned into an epic adventure by now.

Megan and I went to the grocery store and bought a lot of baby food. Those 4 oz jars are the perfect size.

Last night I started filling the jars (it took a few days to use and then clean out the baby food! And we don’t have any babies in the house anymore! My homemade dog food just got a step easier). In another couple of days, they’ll be all done and I can wrap them up to give out to people (if I can bear to part with them).

The moral of the story – use a candy thermometer when making candy. Fortunately, the Walnut Brittle Syrupy Sundae Topping tastes divine, even if it’s not hard and brittle. I bought a candy thermometer this weekend. I'm armed for next year now!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Down with ING Direct (or Why We Like Emigrant Direct)!

A week or so ago, I posted about our meeting with a financial planner and the tips/instructions we left with. Well, I had also recommended ING Direct.

Well, since that post a few things have changed. I can no longer recommend ING Direct and let me tell you why.

PJ and I both opened accounts with ING Direct in April 2005. There was a promotion going on…you’d get $25 free if you opened with a minimum of $10 and left it there for at least 3 months. All fine and dandy, so we did that. PJ and I opened separate accounts. That Christmas, PJ put a decent sized deposit into ING Direct. I didn’t. I didn’t have the time/energy to deal with how to handle that account. We already had a savings account set up, so I was still trying to figure it all out.

Anyway, in February of this year, I finally started automatic deposits into both the accounts. It wasn’t large deposits. Just like $10 each. PJ’s account went through with no problem. Mine, however, cancelled and they simply deposited the money back into my checking account (all $35 and change). LOL Anyway, I got a letter later saying it was closed for inactivity. Fine. I can understand that. I mean for 22 months I hadn’t done anything with the account. That’s a fair business decision.

So, fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. We decided we’d just use PJ’s ING Direct account and move our savings there since the APY was so much higher than our regular bank. Yeah, well, since I had a low balance account with no activity for nearly two years, they won’t let me have an account at ING ever again. WTH??? Are they nuts???? I mean, if I had defrauded them or something, that would make sense, but I simply didn’t do anything and so I’m now longer allowed an account?!?! I also can’t be a joint owner on any account.

Well, I did a little research. For accounts that have no minimums and still pay a high interest yield, Emigrant Direct kept coming up as an alternative. So, ING Direct has lost all our money and business and Emigrant has gained it all. And guess what? Emigrant pays a higher APY!!!! So there! **sticking tongue out**

We’ve only had the account a few days with Emigrant Direct so far (maybe a week), but so far we’re pleased. You can create your own log in name. This is important to me since I could never remember my ING customer number (and never had the doc handy when I needed it). So, if you’re looking for a high yield savings account, let me highly recommend Emigrant Direct.