Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 In Review

1. What did you do in 2013 that you've never done before?  Rocky & I created a painting together. It was better than therapy!
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? No resolutions last year. This year, I have selected a Bible verse for 2014: Colossians 1:16: For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, all things have been created through him and for him. I chose this verse to help remind me that this is all for him, not for me. I also chose this verse to help remind me to pray for everyone, whether or not I want to or agree with them or even like them.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?  Several friends from our Billings church did. It was so much fun to watch them!
4. Did anyone close to you die?  No. We were fortunate to not have lost anyone this year.
5. What places did you visit? We drove to Denver to celebrate Rocky's oldest friend Dave's 40th birthday. It was a great trip and one we wondered why we had never done before!
6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013? A honeymoon. We had hoped to finally get one for our 10th anniversary, but the timing did not work out.
7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory and why? October 1, 2 and 5th -- the dates we closed on the Billings and Brookings homes and the date we moved into our new home. Those dates also marked the end of 2 months worth of commuting between Watertown and Brookings.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Taking up spin class. I've never really done an organized exercise class before. I'm not seeing the results in how my clothes fit, yet, but the class is getting "easier."
9. What was your biggest failure? Letting 20 pounds creep back
10. Did you suffer any illness or injury? We were very fortunate to have a healthy year. Cancer has returned to Bonnie, but physicians believe it will be controlled by her medication.
11. What was the best thing you bought? This is difficult. Our new home? My new wine fridge? Tickets to see Frozen? Maggie's new Brownie uniform?
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Rusty has really become a good dog -- doesn't want to run away, loves to play.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
14. Where did most of your money go? Debt (which is PAID OFF -- we now only have the mortgage and Rocky's student loan)
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to Girl Scout Camp with Maggie
16. What song will remind you of 2013?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder? About the same
b. thinner or fatter? Fatter, but I'm working on it!
c. richer or poorer? richer. Moving to SD, getting a smaller house, has been a blessing in this area.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of? 
19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Complaining to myself.
20. How did you spend Christmas in 2013? With my family
21. Did you fall in love in 2013? 
22. What was your favorite TV program? Old favorites keep coming up: Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, watching the Minnesota VIkings
23. What did you do for your birthday? Drank wine and went to the Farmer's Market.
24. What was the best book you read? I was part of a book launch for Courtney Joseph, a Christian blogger who wrote a book titled "Women Living Well." I think this was the only book I really read this year. How sad. I love to read. I think one of my resolutions should be to read a new book each month. And a book just for me. I do want to start reading more in the evenings with the girls.
25. What did you want and get? A DVD of old Carol Burnett Shows!
26. What did you want and not get? A family vacation. I had really hoped we'd get to Glacier before moving. Fortunately, Glacier isn't going anywhere!
27. What was your favorite film? In the theater, we saw Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Wolverine and Frozen. While I enjoyed all of them, I think Frozen was my favorite, and not just because it was the only non-sequel movie we saw.
28. Did you make some new friends? Working on it!
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If our house in Billings would have sold for what we wanted it to sell for.
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013? Fat clothes
31. What kept you sane? Wine
32. What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? 
33. What political issue stirred you the most? Healthcare and marriage equality
34. Who do you miss? My Billings Girls
35. What valuable life lesson did you learn? Truly saying Yes to God is scary, but unbelievably worth it on so many levels.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Joy Dare, 1000 Gifts

What a blessed day. It always is. And even more so now that the girls are old enough to talk about the true meaning of Christmas. This year we did something different. Rather than giving the girls and each other a long laundry list of toys that can be forgotten or lost within the wrapping paper, we opted for 4 gifts each [with a few exceptions for Santa!]:

Something you want
Something you need
Something to wear
Something to read

I liked this a lot. It made selecting gifts more of a challenge and allowed each gift to be thought of a bit more carefully, rather than just trying to spend a set amount. I enjoyed shopping for a book I thought Rocky would enjoy. I liked talking with my husband about what the girls "needed."
I found myself looking at my girls and my husband several times throughout the day, marveling at how blessed and, let's face it, lucky I am. While this is definitely not where I ever expected to find myself, I have a loving family (and extended family), we have a roof over our heads, more food than we could possibly eat, mounds of laundry to clean each week, and we're able to give thoughtful gifts to each other.

Maggie was a little sad tonight thinking that Christmas was over. The day is over, but keeping that spirit up all year round is the challenge and our joy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Celebrating Christmases

I have to admit there are some really nice things about living so close to family. Being able to celebrate the holidays is definitely one of them. The girls have a lot of cousins that they really didn't get to see a lot of before. Now, that is very different! We've already been able to celebrate Christmas twice with Jada and Jeffrey, and even with the wide age range (14 to 3), they all got along very well through both celebrations. Jessie was so excited to see "Jeffwy" again [even if he did think she needed help opening her presents].

We will get to celebrate with their Dailey cousins on Saturday at the big Dailey celebration and this year, we get our first just our family Christmas morning since Jessie was born! [Not that we didn't like having Grandma there, but there's just something about letting it be just us.]

Everyone playing the dice game.

Jada helps Maggie make some rainbow bracelets.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best Sugar Cookie Recipe EVER!

What's Christmas without a good sugar rolled out cookie with lots of frosting & sprinkles? I know these are Santa's favorite cookie, because, well, just look at them? It's his face right there!

Growing up, sugar cookies, while fun, were never my favorite. They were either too difficult, too sweet, too hard (I'm not a huge fan of crispy cookies), too messy, too something. But when we were first married, Rocky asked me to make HIS favorite Christmas treat: the Santa Cookies his mom used to make. So, along with trying other Christmas treats (like caramels), I looked for a new sugar cookie recipe and found one while watching "Good Eats." This recipe is, by far, the best sugar cookie recipe I have ever tried. The cookies aren't too sweet, too crispy (as long as you take them out in time) and are always a hit!

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter -- I prefer to have the butter at room temp and not softened/melty
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 T milk

Sift dry ingredients together. Put butter in large bowl for your stand mixer and beat until smooth. Add sugar and beat together until light yellow. Add egg and milk and beat to combine/until light and fluffy. Put mixer on low and slowly add the flour mix [and don't let your 3 year old dump the whole thing in before your 8 year old turns the mixer down]. Mix until mixture comes together [patience!]. Divide the dough in half and refrigerate for 2 hours [I usually wrap in wax paper or cling wrap].

Preheat oven to 375. When dough is chilled, roll out to 1/4 inch thick [I do this for my girls, much to Maggie's consternation!]. Cut into desired shapes and place on greased/parchment covered/silicone baking mat covered cookie sheet. Bake 7 to 9 minutes, until edges start to brown, rotating sheet 1/2 way through baking. Let cookies sit on sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and cool before frosting.

The Santa cookies are simply 2 round cookies. One is his face, the second has 2 sides cut to make the hat & mustache. This year, I just used chocolate chips, but I have used red hots for the nose in the past (husband and kids don't like that part. These cookies freeze well. I don't know how long they would last as they never seem to last more than a few days at our house. I will typically mix up 2 batches and keep a 2nd batch for making more cookies later.