Monday, December 29, 2008

Next event...

Christmas is over. The gifts have been given, everyone has been seen. There was lots I didn't do that I wanted to but it's all over now. Now, we gear up for then end of year, the last scheabang. As in the past we are hosting a New Year's Eve party and so the clean up and set up has begun.

Christmas village up & working - check. Tree still up - check. Public areas decluttered - check. Everyone invited - check. Hats and noisemakers - check. Champagne - to be picked up Tues. Grapes- pending. Backyard spotless - check. Pool cleaned - being done now. Backyard lights working - check. Dog bathed - set for Wed. Liquor cabinet stocked - check.
We are good to go.

I have no clue how many people are coming. I don't know what they are bringing. This is always a trauma for many not for me. It's a true pot luck. Bring whatever or not. I makes no matter. If you can come then do. If you don't RSVP and your plans fail, my party can be your back up, that's OK, show up. The only ones that have learned to appreciate this are my kids. The past 2 years they have invited friends and opened the invitation to their families etc. A few have come. Some are now going to be repeat guests.

People feel like their imposing, like they need to help me pre-plan. What if everyone brings dessert?! I laugh and say then we all eat dessert - oh the horror. It doesn't matter. I didn't go because I hadn't told you I was going and I didn't want to put you out at the last minute. This is not a sit down wedding people! It's a New Year's Eve party. If I run out of champagne (which I never have) then we'll toast with the next available thing. It's not about the stuff. I don't know how to impart that any better in my invitation. It's about the being with friends and family and sharing the time together. Here's the e-vite that I sent out this year:

It’s that time of year again! You are cordially invited to make merry and party hardy at the New Year’s Eve Bash! WooHoo! As you know (unless you are a newbe) the invitation is officially extended to you and anyone you would like or are obligated to kiss at midnight. There will be partygoers of all ages and all ages are welcome from abuelita to el bebe. Rumors are the adults may be outnumbered this year, as my children are actually inviting people too! (Can I get another WooHoo!?) We provide music, champagne for those old enough and sparkling cider for those not old enough and grapes to eat at midnight. In addition, we have a few other traditions such as traipsing around the perimeter of the house with luggage (to bring travel in the coming year), we throw the bucket of water out the front door (to wash away the evil spirits that may haunt us from this year) we ask that this event be limited to one person per family. We will also have lentils to be eaten at midnight (to promote good fortune in the coming year) provided by Miriam. And last year (I think) we learned that we should wear yellow underwear (for good luck according to the Costa Ricans), plan accordingly, underwear not provided at the party. ;) This party has been had in melting heat, cold (it all relative, people we do live in SoFLA) and in the rain. Nothing will keep us from ringing in the New Year! So, where is this shindig? xxxx SW xxx Court. My cell 305-xxx-xxxx. What do you bring? Whatever you want or nothing at all. It’s all good. If you need to eat or drink something special bring it. If you want to use us a guinea pigs and try a new recipe, fine by me. If you didn’t think you were coming, and last minute had a change of plans, please show up. There are no rules, other than keep it legal and there are no rules. Dress up, dress down just come and have some fun! If you need to hear or dance to something special, please bring it although I must say we traditionally have everything from Celia Cruz, to the Partridge Family to Christina Aguilera to Will Smith and Tim McGraw. We are quite an eclectic bunch.

Hope you can join us and if not have a wonderful and safe holiday.

Disclaimers: We have a pool that is ungated. Although there are many who will be more than willing to jump in after a child we ask that you keep track of your own. There is usually basketball playing in the backyard and football playing in the front (yes on the lawn-its perfectly safe) expect sweaty, grass stained, dirty children on the ride home regardless of how they arrive.

Where ever and however you spend it, I hope that the new year brings wonder, joy, love and laughter to you every day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bailout economy Christmas

This year the Season has been different in this bailout economy culture. We have our jobs and haven't had any income cuts just the expense hikes that have been crunching for a while. As I don't qualify for the any congressional bailout funds we have found other ways to scrimp and save.

I have always made Christmas gifts from the kitchen for neighbors and co-workers. This year that list expanded. Honestly, I enjoyed making it all and as a bonus it was more economical than buying stuff and I think more useful. The only gifts that I truly went to a store to buy were for the kids. The few that I have to give to got their toys.

Adults in the family are mostly getting homemade things too. I made so much Creme de vie this year and gave so much that I have actually run out. I need to make more. I made 5 liters, more than I ever make and was short. The last bottle that was actually going to be a gift for my boss, 19 asked if he could give to his girlfriends parents. So, the boss is getting cranberry bread that was intended for the host of Christmas day brunch - oh well.

Which leads me to my kids. Part of my gift to 19 was to give him money to buy his girlfriend tickets to go to see The Nutcracker. He wanted to surprise her and he did. He told her to dress up nice, suited up and armed with tickets in a Santa gift bag and a bottle of creme de vie with an ornament hanging from it he went to her house to spread Christmas. I was the one bottling and scrambling for the bag at the last minute. As he was ready to walk out the door, he looked at his wares and said, "wow, mom. This all looks really nice. Thanks." He gave me a kiss and went out the door. Did he know that he just gave me a gift? After their outing, they went to dinner and after 11pm he called. "Are you up? We can go by and tell you about it, if you want?" Yes, I'm up, come on over. Of course, I jumped out of bed and got dressed and went out to wait for them. I listened to their retelling their evening. Her anticipation, his nervousness, her surprise, their enjoyment at the show. 16 sat with us and entertained us all with his sarcastic comments peppering their story. What a gift they gave me. I didn't get to bed until after 1am and I'm at work this morning but what I gift I had last night sitting with my boys and his girlfriend sharing stories and laughs. Priceless!

Monday, December 22, 2008

I need you to go to the store, please.

I think if my husband hears those words for me again, he will return with divorce papers. I have been baking for 2 1/2 weeks and have said those words countless times. Each time he asks: You need it now? My answer is always the same: Well, I guess not really but then I'll just have to throw this out because I can't finish it without that and then I don't know when I'll have time to make it so I guess I just won't. He's gone every time to get whatever item I have just realized I am in need of and asked is there ANYTHING else we are low on. No, no that's it I tell him but take your phone just in case.

Honestly, I don't blame him for wanting to throw the 5 lb bag of sugar at me because I have been so scattered about my baking this year. It's really pathetic. It's been like ADD baking. I make 4 pie crusts then decide to make a rum cake and don't have you know a key ingredient like - rum. Then he goes to get that while I take out butter to soften for cookies. So, I make the cake later. Much later.

Next year I need to really organize my holiday baking. I mean I was so good with Thanksgiving. I did Thanksgiving in like record time. But I have been a disaster about Christmas baking so much so that it's even bothering me. Yesterday (Sunday) after he went to the grocery store on Saturday and stocked me up on Milk, Butter, eggs, flour and sugar. I went to the store because we ran out of brown sugar, and plastic wrap so 1) I couldn't finish some cookies and 2) how am I supposed to gift them if I can't wrap them. He was watching football so I didn't think it prudent to ask him to go.
RESOLUTION: So next year, a list of all the things I am going to bake and a plan as to when so that the groceries are done accordingly.
I won't hold my breath.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life!

I know I disappeared but I think I am back now. I won't get into why I disappeared because I don't want to bitch and moan about things. Suffice it to say it had to do with GM and she's back at the ALF at least for now. Moving on.

What I want to tell you about is that I got what I wanted for Christmas yesterday. My boys (all 3 of them) had never seen the movie It's A Wonderful Life. So, I popped it up on the Netflix list, we got it on Thursday and I sent the 3 of them an email. I told them that I wanted them to plan (not me) on a time when all 4 of us would be home and able to watch the movie uninterrupted. I was asking for 132 minutes, family movie time.

Mind you, hubby hates movies that are not linear from beginning to end. So, I knew he was going to struggle with the back and forth in time. It's also in black and white - duh! and I knew that wouldn't win them over either. But it's a classic and I thought that it needed to be seen.

Well, they did it. We all watched it last night. No laundry, no homework, no surfing, no texting, no reading, no phones were being used at the same time. We all just did one thing - watch the movie and of course comment along the way. And guess what?! It wasn't horrible. They actually liked it. They thought it was a little slow and probably could have been shorter but they liked it. Hubby of course, moaned when they story went back in time but he hung in there. I of course, cried at the end and they teased me. It was all good.
I got my Christmas wish...hope you get yours.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

'Tis the season!

Where have I been?, you ask. Well, I've been shopping that's where. I started Black Friday and have been at it since yesterday. I'm done now. Did you hear that? I am done with the gift shopping now I begin baking. Yea! I love this season of giving. I craft, I buy, I bake, I cook all the fun things!

I made one girlfriend a cake which I gave her for Thanksgiving. Now I will make goodies for the neighbors and other girlfriends and a few of 16s teachers.

I also made my seasonal charitable donation to 2 teacher proposals through Donor Choose. I have the button there on the sidebar. I really like this site because it funds specific requests that teachers want for their classes but due to budgetary restraints they can't fund them. Take a look. You may find something that moves you to give.

I have made batches of Creme de Vie (see: ) for recipe. Now I will start on cookies and cakes and pies and I am going to make meringues with the egg whites from the creme de vie and GM asked for banana bread not too Christmasy I know but she asked so I'll make it for her.

Speaking of GM the boys went with me over the weekend to see her. She was thrilled to see them. We had a very nice visit and I got some great pictures one of which I already enlarged 5x7 and framed. It will be one of her Xmas gifts plus her chocolate covered cherries (a must) and a new nightgown and robe and some lottery tickets. She's back in the hospital again. She's calm this time. They have found a tumor in her uterus and her cumedin (sp?) levels were high. They are getting her blood levels back to normal and meanwhile they are checking her pacemaker again. We'll see if she agrees to the operation to remove the tumor. That will be tonight's adventure. I'm leaving it in God's hands.

So, tonight after visiting and dealing with GM, I will finish wrapping and settling the gifts under the unadorned tree. It has lights but no ornaments. I have some loose ornaments in a drawer that were purchased throughout the year I will hang those tonight to see if hubby gets the hint and brings the rest of the stuff down from the attic. This weekend the baking begins in earnest. I'm looking forward to it.

There are so many things that I want to do this season that I have a list (duh!) I''m list lady. Let's see how much I get done. The only thing that didn't get done for Thanksgiving was getting my nails done. I spruced them up a tad at home but they weren't done. We'll see how much I get done on the Xmas list.