Monday, December 31, 2007

Alive and Kicking

It's been awhile, but I wanted you to know we're still alive and kicking. After 10 days in Idaho, we barely had time to catch our breath before we headed to Sacramento to see Steve's family for New Year's. When we get back, I'll post a super-mega-holiday post full of pictures, movies and exciting news (about me being an aunt!!!).

To hold you over, may I offer something sweet to munch on?

Mmm... I could just eat her!

Holiday Updates

I want to get our Christmas/New Year's update posted, but I really shouldn't be doing this right now. The whole downstairs is full of boxes, plastic, wires, styrofoam and a half-stripped Christmas tree. We used some of the money we got for Christmas to get a new DVD player/surround sound system. (Guess who's idea that was? Hmm.) Steve decided he was going to set it up the same time I decided to take down Christmas. Steve's mission is finished for now, while mine remains unaccomplished. I think I spent more time keeping Sophie from eating plastic bags and bits of styrofoam than packing up decorations. Now that she's fast asleep, I have a few minutes. I'm not ready to go back downstairs, either.

To keep myself from writing ten pages of holiday play-by-play that no one will read, I'm just going to throw out some pictures that will highlight the last couple of weeks we spent with our families. I will preface this by reminding you that Sophie is still the only grandchild on both sides. She got the most presents by far and is in about 99% of the pictures we took. Lucky girl.

Miss Bright-Eyes woke up at 6 AM Christmas morning and wouldn't go back to sleep. By the time everyone else got up and we gathered to open presents, it was time for her morning nap. Luckily, she got to suck on everything in her stocking before she crashed.

Here we are for round two and dressed in the Christmas jammies Dev and Andrea got her. One of the toys she got was a Tickle-Me Elmo. This wasn't an ordinary one, though. This little guy laughs so hard it makes him fall over, roll around and kick his legs, and stand back up. It's really amazing. Sophie wasn't so sure about him. If he got too close to her while he was in tickle-mode it made her cry. She'll have to grow into that one.

Here we are about to eat Christmas dinner. Also at the table were my brother Devin, his wife Andrea, friend of the family Jeremy, and my grandparents.

Here's the whole crew, including the cat (Abby). We couldn't get Sophie to stop looking at her.

After we left Idaho we stayed the night at my grandparent's house in Sandy before we flew out of Salt Lake the next morning. Sophie got a kick out of playing pat-a-cake with Grandma. We got a kick out of watching her.

A couple of days after we got home, we went to Sacramento to spend New Year's with Steve's family. We had our "Christmas time" with them, visited with family and friends, went go-cart racing, but mostly we Wii'd ourselves to death for two days. I'm not a big fan of video games, but man . . . I wouldn't mind having one of those. I got pretty good most of the sports games which is a real confidence booster for me and my lack of athletic-ness in real life. I'm also kicking myself for not taking any pictures while we were there. And actually, my Dad supplied most of the pictures we have from Idaho. (Yes, Dad, I know you sent me a lot more pictures than the four pictures I posted, but I don't think anyone else wants to see all 110 of them. If they do, I'll gladly send them over.)

Oh, I almost forgot! Speaking of Sophie being the only grandchild. . . she only has about 6 months left of her reign. Steve's sister Jennifer is expecting this summer!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Grandma's Highchair

This little highchair at my parents house is at least 80 years old. My grandmother sat in it when she was a baby as well as almost every child, grandchild and now, great-grandchildren of hers. It's the perfect size for Sophie right now. She loves sitting in it and banging things on the metal tray.

Her new favorite toy is a set of old, metal measuring spoons. Why do we bother buying new toys?

There's nothing like a little oatmeal to start the day.

I think it's cute that her feet don't stick out from under the tray yet.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My White Christmas

View from the back deck.

View from the front door.

Moving to California this fall didn't ruin my white Christmas. :) We're having a blast up here in the frigid North. Updates to come...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Odds and Ends

Well, Steve flew out yesterday to Utah to work a few days at the Guard, so it's just the girls at home. Sophie and I leave for Idaho on Wednesday. Can you believe Christmas is next week? Yowza.

These are a few things that I've been meaning to post...

Does this remind you of pictures hanging on the wall of Hogwarts? I don't know if Steve meant to take a video, but it's funny anyway.

I like it when she makes this face.

Sophie and Dad hanging out while Mom makes dinner.

I don't put jeans in the dryer. Not even Sophie's. :)

Sophie sometimes hangs out here while I get ready in the morning. That day she was watching me blow dry my hair. I guess she wasn't entertained.

Adelyn came over and sat RIGHT next to Sophie. It surprised her, then she decided she didn't like it and started to fuss.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

College Football

I don't like football. So how did I end up doing a Yahoo Sports College Bowl Pick'em? It went a little something like this:

Steve: (While filling out his pick'em) Tennessee or Wisconsin?

Me: (Thinking to myself, "Tennesee = country music. Wisconsin = cheese.") Definitely Wisconsin. I'd choose cheese over country music any day.

Steve: (Looks at me like I've got potatoes growing out of my ears, then starts laughing.) You should fill out one of these.

Me: No way.

Steve: Oh, come on, I'll email Stokes and have him send you an invitation.

Me: Why, so you can make fun of me?

Steve: C'mon, please?! I want to see how you do!

Me: Sigh. Fine.

The last time I did something like this was for a contest at work during March madness. I picked winning teams based on which mascot could realistically beat the other in a fight, which team's city I'd most like to visit and which colors I liked better. Believe it or not, I nearly tied for first place. We'll see how I do this time.

To end on a more feminine note...

Happy 19th Birthday to my sister, Hilary!! I love this pic. She looks so cute, AND she's holding bunnies. That ought to girl things up.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Happy Dance

Today is definitely a happy dance day. Steve may or may not join me, but I hope he does because he's pretty cute when he shakes it. Why all the dancing?

Reason #1: Today is Steve's last day of finals. One quarter down -- 11 more to go.

Reason #2: Let me introduce you to this lovely lady:

If you can't tell, it's a portable dishwasher (These places are ancient and don't have hook-ups). We snagged her for a mere $40 from a couple down the street who are moving this week. She's not pretty, but she's a hard worker and will definitely come in handy on days when I mess up every dish, pot, pan and utensil in my kitchen. She needs a name, though. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Treat Time

I usually don't need an excuse to make goodies other than, "I feel like a goodie." When the holidays come around there are usually plenty of opportunities to whittle at my "mmm, this sounds good" list of recipes to try out. Here's what I've been up to the past couple of days:

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

I've never been an eggnog fan. There was a flavor in eggnog that I couldn't put my finger on and I decided I didn't like it. Now I know that it's rum, I think I'm starting to change my mind. (Weird, I know. It doesn't taste any different after I realize what I'm eating. It's a mental thing.) I saw this recipe in my Dec/Jan issue of Taste of Home and have wanted to try them for a month now. These cookies look and taste almost identical to regular snickerdoodles, but with a hint of rum (flavoring, that is).

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c shortening

2 c + 5 T sugar, divided

1 egg

1 tsp rum extract

1/2 c evaporated milk

1/2 c refrigerated French vanilla nondairy creamer
5 1/2 c flour

1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

In a large bowl, cream butter, shortening and 2 cups of sugar. Beat in egg and rum. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Combine milk and creamer; set aside. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk mixture to dough, blending after each addition. In a small bowl, combine nutmeg and remaining sugar. Roll dough into 1-2 inch balls, roll in nutmeg mixture, then place on a cookie sheet. Flatten slightly (don't worry, these don't spread much). Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Makes 6-7 dozen.

Nat's Notes:
1. I used fat-free evaporated milk and they turned out fine.
2. The rum flavor is really subtle in these cookies. Next time I think I'll put 1 1/2 tsp instead.
3. There's a glaze that goes on top made from 1 c powdered sugar and 5-6 tsp of creamer. I'm not a glaze fan -- it just tastes like more sugar to me. If I was going to put something on them, it would be full-out butter or cream cheese frosting. None of that sissy glaze stuff.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

I've made these before, but I liked them so much I made them again. I think this is my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. I found it on the back of the Nestle butterscotch chip bag and altered it a bit. The cookies stay chewy and moist longer than other recipes I've tried.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

1 3/4 c flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 c butter-flavored shortening

2 T water

3/4 c packed brown sugar

3/4 c white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

3 c oats (quick or old fashioned)

1 c white chocolate chips

1 c dried cranberries

Mix flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir in chips and cranberries. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 7-8 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to wire rack.

Nat's Notes:
1. The recipe originally called for 2 sticks of butter instead of the shortening and water. I used shortening because I didn't have butter and didn't feel like running to the store AGAIN.

Mint Oreo Truffles

These were the problem children of the weekend. I first tried these during Thanksgiving and thought, "Oh, have mercy on my hips" as I pounded a half-dozen of them. They're really good, but really rich. And probably really bad for you. But it's Christmas.

You're supposed to coat the balls in almond bark. After looking in three different stores for almond bark or just white melting chocolate, I gave up and bought white chocolate chips. It kept seizing when I tried to melt it, so I kept adding shortening to smooth it out. When I tried to coat the balls, it got lumpy and half of it slid off. GRR. So, I rolled them in powdered sugar. A fast fix, but a few hours later, the sugar had started to dissolve into the balls, leaving a weird marbley texture. So I coated them again. A few hours later they started doing the same thing, so I hurried and got as many out the door as I could and just kept the rest. They still tasted great, they just looked a little funny.

Mint Oreo Truffles

1 pkg Mint Oreos

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese

almond bark
(yes, that's all.)

Place cream cheese in bowl and beat for about a minute. Throw the Oreos in a couple at a time and beat the snot out of the whole thing until you get a relatively smooth consistency. There will be a few lumps.
Refrigerate dough for a couple of hours or overnight to stiffen.

Roll into 1-inch balls, then coat with almond bark (or powdered sugar if you have the same luck I did). Let set on a cookie sheet and store in the fridge. Try not to eat them all in one night.

Nat's Notes:
1. This is easier if you use a stand mixer. If you don't have one, you might want to crush the Oreos first.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Headless Chicken

I'm so glad this weekend is over. Don't get me wrong, we had tons of fun, but it was a lot of work. You know when you have so many things to do and prepare for that you can't see straight? Well, that was me. I felt like a chicken with its head cut off -- hence the title of this post. I couldn't think of anything else.

Steve didn't have to be at school long, so we ran a few errands to gather things we needed this weekend. We had the missionaries over for dinner, and I was trying out a new overnight pizza dough recipe (I might blog about it later.) I ran into a few glitches, and when I was finished, my kitchen looked like a tornado ran through it. (A nice tornado. Nothing was broken.) Now might be a good time to note that we do NOT have a dishwasher. Any project I do in the kitchen takes twice as long because I have to hand-wash everything. I'm beginning to go a little nuts. Steve does the dishes quite often, so it's not as bad as it could be.

Dishes are finally done! And yes, I'm wearing socks. I finally forced myself to pack the flip flops to spare my poor feet from drying out all winter.


I finished writing my talk for Sunday, then I started some Christmas treats (which I WILL blog about later) then started to prepare for that night. A few of us got together and did a progressive dinner that ended with a white elephant exchange. Missy and I were in charge of appetizers over at her place. I hadn't used my fondue pot much, so I suggested that we bust out some cheese. I think it turned out OK. It had a good flavor--and it better had because there was $15 worth of French-imported Swiss and smoked Gouda in there. (And yes, I'd do it again. I think I'd rather splurge on cheese than a new shirt.) Here are a few pics from that night:

Me, Missy, & Hadley

Natasha, Jessica (who thought this was the "silly picture" lol), Heather, Jessie, Missy, Tagen and me perched on the back of the couch. Wow, this looks like it was a girl party. It wasn't. Again, we're not the most diligent photographers.

One of Steve's specials.

So, after we'd been at the first house for a few minutes I realized I had totally forgotten about the White Elephant exchange. In between houses I ran home to grab a couple of things. I grabbed a little black purse that I don't use anymore and began looking through Steve's stuff. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get rid of something I don't like. (I'm so mean.) I saw his bright orange Mr. T shirt hanging in his closet and knew that it was destined for another closet in another house. I wrapped both and headed back to the party. When the gift exchange started, Steve's shirt was the first one unwrapped. He wasn't happy. (I didn't tell him what I had brought.) The little stinker managed to steal it back from someone at the end of the game.

Much to my dismay it's back in his closet. Oh, did I mention that Mr. T's mohawk and beard are sort of a puffy-paint texture? This shirt is overflowing with class.

And if anyone is looking for a book to help them improve their love life, I recently acquired one that has great illustrations. (Thanks, Lundell's.)


Not only did Steve and I have to speak in church, I had to play the piano for the choir and another musical number. Sophie had woken me up FOUR times the night before, so I wasn't in the most pleasant of moods when I arrived at the church at 8AM to practice. Oh, and did I mention that I was also called to be one of the organists in the ward? I've always wanted to learn to play, I just didn't want to learn in front of a couple hundred people. At least I only have to play once a month, but on those Sundays, that only leaves me a 40-minute window when I can nurse Sophie because I also play for the Primary. (See why I want to make my kids learn to play the piano?!? There needs to be more people in the church that can do it.)

We were asked to speak about Joseph Smith, which I liked. This was the first time we'd spoken since we got married. (and the first time for me since my mission report -- Yikes!) I think it went alright. Everyone now knows that I'm a crier. It was bound to come out sooner or later. Steve's mom came with Michael (his bro) and Ife (Michael's friend). It was nice having someone watch Sophie. After church I had a quick Visiting Teaching appointment, then we had lunch.

After everyone left, I put Sophie down for a nap and climbed into bed myself. I stayed there for a good three hours. If you know me well, you know that I'm not normally a napper. I take maybe five naps a year.

Dad, is mom ever going to wake up?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bloggy Giveaways

I recently stumbled upon a blog that hosts giveaways. All she does is give away free stuff. How cool is that? I love free stuff.

The site is Bloggy Giveaways. Go check it out!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Holiday Babysitter

We put the tree up (along with everything else) just after Thanksgiving. I'm still on a hunt for a tree skirt that I like. I may end up getting some sheer, sparkly fabric and bunching it up under the tree like my mom does. Anyways...

Sophie loves the tree. I set her by it and let her tug on the branches. If I need to do some dishes, I leave her lying underneath and she's usually entertained for 15-20 minutes. I tried to catch a picture when she wasn't looking, but she's got her dad's ultra-sensitive radar ears and can hear the sound the camera makes when it's focusing. Even if Christmas music is playing. Even if I'm standing 12 feet away.

And yes, I realize that she may shake something off, but she hasn't yet. None of the ornaments are choking-sized or heavy, and I do watch her. (Did I cover everything, Andrea? ;))

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Green Beans and Tub Time

I don't know about the Perry children, but according to my mom, none of the Phillips children liked anything green when they were babies. We ate a lot of sweet potatoes, carrots and squash, which gave our skin a slight orange glow. Because of the reaction (or lack of) Sophie had from eating Squash, I was anxious to put something green in her mouth. I'm not going to tell you how it turns out -- you'll have to watch. :)

And yes, that was me snorting. Oops.

Every kid has naked bathtub pictures. Now Sophie does, too. Since she's pretty good at sitting up now, I let her play for a few minutes before I lather her up. She also really likes her duck.