Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

We celebrated our Christmas with the kids last night; it has been great to see Paige a couple of times this week, now that she is home from school for a month. We will all be going to see Dave's mom for lunch tomorrow - wanted to get some pics of the kids to put in the cute holiday frame we bought for her. I realized a few weeks ago that we wouldn't have an opportunity to take pics until Paige was home for Christmas break, so our family Christmas card didn't happen this year - I may do a New Year's card to send out- better late than never!

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to Christmas Eve service at our church, and last night Dave, Jace and I attended the 9pm modern worship service. It was some great music, all traditional carols with a modern edge. The service ended with the congregation lighting candles and singing "Silent Night" - it is so easy to get caught up in all the flurry of the holiday, and this always brings me right back to the heart of Christmas.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful day, and you were able to be with those you love. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Looks like Maxine and I have something in common this Christmas... (At least I didn't post one of her cynical male-bashing quotes, or something about middle age and saggy boobs)

Merry (almost) Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'll Be Home for Christmas...

Bing Crosby's recording of this Christmas classic is truly my absolute favorite holiday song; it was recorded in 1943 during war-time, when many soldiers weren't able to be with their families for Christmas, and the line "if only in my dreams" was their difficult reality.

I think we must have had a recording of this particular song when I was growing up, as well. I have a memory of sitting by myself in the living room, with just the Christmas tree lights on (all green lights that year), listening to and singing this song. It makes me nostalgic, and even a little melancholy, to hear it every year; makes me think of Christmases past, and all of the memories over the years.

I'm fortunate to be able to see almost all of my family every year around Christmas, since we all get together the weekend before the actual holiday. Christmas 2009 with my parents, siblings and our extended families was a wonderful time. We missed Thom, who was working, and also didn't get to see as much of Susan and her family because of Landon's basketball tournament that kept them away until Saturday evening.

Saturday night we ate a wonderful dinner, opened presents and just generally enjoyed each others' company. Here are some of the highlights of Gasaway Family Christmas 2009:

Now we're back home and I'm enjoying this short work week! My Christmas shopping is complete, and we're ready to celebrate Christmas with the kids in a few days. Happy holidays to everyone, and more Christmas updates soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Julie and Julia (and Nancy... ha!)

In my post yesterday I mentioned that I rented the movie "Julie and Julia"; I really enjoyed it, one of my favorite movies in the past couple of years. If you haven't seen it, be prepared for a typical feel-good Nora Ephron flick (think You've Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle) - but who doesn't like to feel good sometimes? I do!

The movie bounces back and forth between Julie Powell's story and the story of Julia Child, and how she came to be one of America's most beloved culinary figures. Julia Child's story takes place in the 1940s and 50s, while Julie is a late-20-something in current day NYC, who had grand ambitions of being a journalist but has instead ended up in a thankless job as a customer service rep for a local government office.

Here's the story in a nutshell - Julie is a foodie, and loves to cook as a stress-reliever. So, she decides to embark on a year-long quest to make every one of the 500+ dishes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in only 365 days. She starts a blog to detail her daily cooking experiments, and over the year she amasses a huge following, which leads to instant fame and multiple book, TV and other offers! And really, in this day and age of instant reality celebrity, is it that surprising? Anyway, cute movie, and now I'm looking forward to reading the book (yes, that's her book, the one this movie was based on, in part) as I had some unanswered questions about the movie.

Anyhoo, the story captured and held my attention in a new way, since I've started coming into my own (somewhat) in the kitchen! Of course most of what she did was way over my ability level - lots of extravagant dishes that had many, many steps, any of which would almost certainly cause a disaster in my kitchen. But it was a great movie, very interesting. Did you know that Julia Child, one of the most well-known cooks/chefs of our time, did not learn how to cook until age 37?!? Ha! I'm only a year behind her, at 38; who knows what I'll accomplish!

But seriously, I have a long way to go, even to master cooking for my family and a few friends. Although I have learned how to prepare several yummy main dishes over the past few months, I really have not yet attempted to orchestrate an entire MEAL at one time. Dave is a wonderful cook, and as he has said many times, it is the timing of everything that is really one of the most crucial things about preparing a meal. Watching him in action is pretty impressive - he is very natural at prepping, chopping, sauteing, and all those things that look so easy until you TRY it. But I'm getting there, with continued practice! You know, practice makes things perfect - or at least makes them edible!

I've found all kinds of recipes on the internet, and I may be getting a cookbook for Christmas, from our family gift exchange at my folks' house this weekend. That was one of the suggestions I gave on my list. Hopefully it isn't a Julia Child cookbook, I don't think I'm ready for her yet. Anybody have any favorite cookbooks that you would recommend I buy? I'm open to suggestions. Bon appetit!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

Ok, so it isn't really a Christmas song, but it does speak of winter, snowflakes, mittens and all those things that make you think of this time of year. I have had a great week so far, and it is only Wednesday!

There's nothing big to report, life is just plugging along. But as I sat at home last night I realized that some little things have made me happy this week, and I should take the time to make a list of them. I'm a worrier by nature, and my first inclination is to worry about things that might not even happen! But I try not to do that, and sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and time to be thankful for the small things. Here are a few of mine that I thought of last night:
  1. Candy Cane Hershey Kisses - Have you tried these little delightful pieces of Christmas joy?? Yummmm. I meant to stick a few in my lunch box today, to enjoy at work. Now I guess I'll just have to eat double when I get home tonight. Ha!!
  2. Guilty pleasure magazine subscription - I just received my second issue of Rolling Stone, and I am so excited! The only thing I've subscribed to in the last few years is SHAPE magazine, and let's face it - that's not a guilty pleasure, that is me thinking if I get this &*#% magazine every month it is going to compel me to thumb through it and actually DO some of the routines! I love music, and always read our friend Garry's RS issues when we're visiting their family. So when Jace had a magazine fundraiser a couple of months ago, I decided I would just subscribe to it myself.
  3. Alone time and a chick flick - With Dave traveling a bit more each week, and Jace at his dad's a couple of nights a week, I rented "Julie and Julia" last night and watched it while cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. Great movie (more on that later) and just a relaxing evening.
  4. New camera - I received an early Christmas gift, a new Canon camera! My husband won some award points through work, and generously split them with me (what a sweetie!) so I could get a new point-and-shoot camera. It arrived yesterday, and I am so excited about the quality of pictures, so much better than the ones I've had.
  5. Christmas classics on TV - One of my favorite childhood memories of Christmas is the television specials - Frosty the Snowman, the Burl Ives' Rudolph special, with the Bumble, the Land of Misfit Toys, etc. I love those, and always like to try to catch them each year. This year Dave turned me on to some old black-and-white Christmas classics for the first time as well - "Holiday Inn" (Bing Crosby and Danny Kay) and "White Christmas" are the two I've watched so far.

Just taking time to think about those little things puts me in a good mood. I have so much to be thankful for - yep, all these little things, but more importantly my family, friends and health - and this year more than ever I am committed to keeping that in mind.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Deck the Halls

Ahhh, it is that time of year- in addition to the shopping crunch we also have to squeeze numerous parties into a three week time frame, all the in the name of holiday cheer- and this year is no exception. Last week's hectic schedule included two midweek work-related parties, and then both my and Dave's work parties were on Friday night! Ack!

Dave dressed extra casual for our Christmas parties this year; he, his boss and two other coworkers had seen KISS (KISS Alive: Thirty-five!) in KC the night before, and had made plans to don their attire for our evening's Christmas festivities. I was glad they got to go to the concert, sounded like a great time and KISS put on quite a show. (Plus now I won't feel too bad about plans to go see a concert with friends in March!)

Dave's boss has a great basement, equipped with all kinds of games, and this year we had a blast with Rock Band - like Guitar Hero, but with lead guitar, bass guitar, drums and vocals - big fun!

Saturday night we enjoyed dinner at friends' Carl and Pam's home, with other dock friends Tom and Christy. Dinner was scrumptious, conversation was hilarious (between Carl and Tom's stories, we spent the evening holding our sides!) and Dave got to see his buddy, Jack the wonder dog!

In addition to a delicious dinner, Pam also had a ton of desserts, including MY favorite, cannolis! YUM!!

I'm back to work full-time tomorrow, and hoping to be back to working out again soon as well. All of this holiday food is not conducive to weight maintenance or loss! That's all for now, lots to do before heading back to work tomorrow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Shop 'Til You Drop!

Well, it is less than 20 days before Christmas and I'm happy to report that I've already completed a lot of my shopping. I wish I could be more like those people who shop for Christmas throughout the year, finding bargains and tucking things back- but, I'm not. I'm more the type to wait (procrastinate) until a week or two before Christmas and then rush around getting things at the last minute. But this year has been better, due in part to a couple of things.

First, since I've been off work for the last three weeks, I've had plenty of time to plan and follow through on all of my "to do's", including Christmas shopping. I've done a little bit at a time, here and there, and it has been so nice to check things off the list and know that I still have 2-3 weeks left in which to finish the rest.

Second, my shopping hasn't been dependent on waiting on a particular paycheck to buy things, as it has been in the past. With our new budgeting system, we have a "gifts" fund that I can shop from, and not worry that I'm spending money that we might need for bills, etc. Because we put so much into each fund/category each month, the money is already there and is allocated just for gifts. It has made it a lot less stressful, having money set aside monthly for these once a year purchases like Christmas gifts.

This week I'm excited about going back to work; I worked half days last week, and started catching up on things there. I'm also looking forward to Jace's and my participation in our annual bike celebration at church this week. They asked for donations of $50 to put towards buying bikes, and then we will all gather on Tuesday night to help assemble the bikes with some kids from the local Boys and Girls Club. When we're done assembling the bikes, the kids each get to take one home. I think our church has done this for the past three years, but this is the first year that we've donated/participated in this project.

On the cooking front, I fixed a pot roast this weekend; it was the second time I've made one. Substituted onion soup mix for the brown gravy mix that I used the first time I made it, and it was much better (less salty) this time. We had roast and mashed potatoes for dinner last night, and polished off the remainder today. Great comfort food on a cold and rainy December day!