Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

"...As happens so often if we are not careful, the symbols can cover that which is symbolized. In some of our lives the manger has already been torn down to allow for a discount store running three-for-a-dollar specials on gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come From A Store
By Jeffrey R. Holland

After working a seasonal job for the largest toy company in the world I have struggling to feel the magic and peace the Christmas season usually brings. Day in and day out I have watched people stalk through the isles of stores searching for "things" to buy, there were very few smiles and even less mention of a Merry Christmas. I know Christmas wasn't always like this and my Christmas wish is that our little family might more fully realize the true meaning of Christmas. Michael and I would like to wish all of you, our friends and family, a very merry Christmas! We hope you have a wonderful Christmas day filled with love, laughter and peace.

Happy Days

This last week has brought with it two very special occasions, our 11th anniversary and Michael's birthday.

Per our anniversary tradition we went out to dinner. This year Michael choose a restaurant in Turlock called Mi Casa which had a very authentic atmosphere including a strolling acoustic guitarist and an amazing dish called Mocahete.

Mocahete is a simmering dish served inside a lava rock mortar (mortar/pestle) it had steak, chicken, shrimp and octopus (Octopus?! I know but it was yummy) in a spicy tomato based sauce with a mountain of cheese on top. It was unlike anything we've ever had before. Then we drove over to Christmas Tree Lane in Ceres, after stopping to pick up some hot cocoa, and walked around admiring the lights and holding hands under our umbrella. We were the only people walking around that night because of the rain but tradition is tradition and the rain didn't bother us a bit!

For Michael's birthday he wanted to go bowling so after a day of "Pulling Rank" (our tradition of the birthday boy/girl getting everything their way on their birthday...if someone isn't complying you just "Pull Rank" and get what you want. Totally fun!) we headed out to McHenry Bowl where Mike smoked us all and I broke 100! We ate dinner at Fudrucker's. Michael had the Bison burger (tasty and healthy). Then we went home to eat cake and open presents. Mikey requested his favorite Chocolate Cheesecake Cake with Cream Cheese frosting. He got a new watch and the card game Five Crowns along with a load of well wishes and phone calls from his cousin Mick in Australia and his brother Arthur accompanied by our nieces and nephews. Thanks everyone for making his B-day so special!

Michael is a wonderful guy who makes everyday fun - Happy Birthday honey :)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Season of Love

Tami gave us another preview of her handiwork. What do you think? I love Michael's leather jacket (a birthday gift last year from my dad). We are excited to see how all the photos come out. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Way Back Wednesday

Michael made this little beauty in honor of our amazing friend LeeAnn (who loves Mt. Dew) a couple of years ago. We would play board games until late at night and laugh until our bellies ached. Once we played Yuker and each hand the losing team had to eat a random "Every Flavor" Jelly Bean - LeeAnn and I lost every hand but one. Disgustingly hilarious :) We went out to dinner together almost every Friday night and it was always more like dinner and a show when Mike and Mark got together. Since they moved to Idaho a few years ago we have missed them mucho but they are doing well and love their new home.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sneak Peak

Here is a little preview of the family pictures our friend (and uber-talented photographer) Tami took of us.

Wicked Weather

We had some wet and wild weather on our trip home from NM. Here are some pics we took from the car on I-40 and into California. Some of them are kind of beautiful.

An Enchanted Thanksgiving

We have been blessed for the past few years to be able to travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico for Thanksgiving. Michael's brother Arthur lives there with his wife and 5 kiddos. This year was extra special because another brother, Matthew, flew out from NY to join us. Here some pics from our trip to the Land of Enchantment...

To Arthur, Sharee, Dallin, Daphne, Sean, Hayden and little Sydney: Thank you for so graciously opening your home to us. for the delicious feast and all the good times! To Matthew: we are so happy you got to come out and spend Thanksgiving with us! And to all the rest of the Gariety clan - we missed you all and hope that maybe next year we can all be together.

Decking The Halls

Our new Christmas wreath was made out of "extras" in our Christmas box. The plain wreath was given to me by a friend, the berries, pine cones, bells, Santa ornament and Believe sign all were part of past decorations. Waste not want not! It is always fun to create something new out of a bunch of misfit items. :)

Toffee Bars

I found this recipe in one of my old cookbooks and decided to try it out. These bars taste a lot like Almond Roca - delicious!

Toffee Bars

1/2 C room temp butter
1/2 C sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 C flour

1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbs butter
2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 C chocolate chips
1/2 C chopped almonds (or Heath chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar together. Add salt, stir. Beat in flour. Press mixture into the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan. Bake for 15 minutes
2. Meanwhile, in a heavy stock pot heat condensed milk and butter, stirring constantly, until boiling. Turn down heat a little and continue stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over crust. Bake 15 minutes.
3. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with chips. Return to oven for 1 minute until chips begin to soften. Smooth out chips with spatula to make a layer of chocolate. Sprinkle with almonds.
4. Chill in freezer until set. Loosen edges and slide out of pan. Cut into bars (will be a little hard to cut through - that's the way it's supposed to be :). Let come to room temp and ENJOY! :)