Monday, December 31, 2007

Home safe and sound

It took 7 hours to get from GJ to Denver, instead of the typical 4 hours. I hear that the pass and tunnel were closed by the time we got home, and they're still closed today! Boy am I glad we left in the morning.

This morning my car wouldn't start. Just before calling a towing service Ben got some advice from his dad. He said to use something called "heat," an alcohol that breaks up crystals in your fuel. After waiting a while the car started! I'm so happy to fix it ourselves and not deal with a mechanic! With the car working we tried to walk around Crown Hill. Blowing snow and frigid wind chill forced us back after a quarter of the walk. Jem was prancing around happily like she didn't even notice the wind that was freezing our teeth.

Today I'm transferring all my photos and music to this new computer, doing laundry, dishes, and putting away presents. Ben wants a New England style beef stew dinner for his birthday tomorrow. I'm going to cook it in my new pressure cooker! Usually I would add potatoes and cabbage midway through the cooking time but with a pressure cooker I can't remove the lid. So does that mean I need to cook them in a separate pot? Or let them get overstewed in the same pot as the meat? Does anyone know?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!



I'm writing to you from my shiny new macbook! So far I'm ok with this mac thing. No major annoyances and lots of little wonderful things that are different from windows. Like programs that start immediately! Being able to put it asleep and awake instantly! Lots of prettiness! My old laptop was pretty pathetic. It was from 2001, was missing the L key, the CD drive fell out occasionally, and the USB ports stopped working halfway through fall semester. I don't think I'll go all crazy about Apple, but so far I'm very pleased with this wonderful present.

Other favorite presents are a pressure cooker (I can cook lentils in 20 minutes!), a Marimekko shower curtain, an original painting from my brother, jewelry from Russia, a new bag, and a little pair of hot Anne Klein heels from Ben.

Ben was also totally spoiled. Among his gifts was a beautiful SLR digital camera. Here are some of the gorgeous pictures he took today:











Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas is coming!

We're driving to Grand Junction tomorrow, cat, dog, and all. This may be the first year I haven't begged Ben to take extra time off work so we can leave before the weekend. Probably because I have so much to do still. I'm back doing the transcription for my parents. It's funny to be doing the same job you had in high school :-)

I've given in to my domestic goddess urges and made peanut butter fudge and peppermint marshmallows. They will be perfect in mugs of hot chocolate with my family. Today Jem is in daycare so I can get some laundry, vacuuming, and cleaning done. Also tomorrow she turns 1 year old, so I figured we can call her playdate a birthday present.

Tonight I have plans to see Sweeney Todd with Ben and Brian. Frankly I'm a little nervous about it.
1) The singing probably won't be that great
2) It might be too gory for me and
3) I haven't actually seen the whole musical (on video) because I get bored and turn it off halfway. I hope the movie keeps the pace better. But how often do Ben and Brian encourage me to see a musical? How can I not go?

I'm so ready for Christmas! For family and food and presents and pets and all the fun that comes with my favorite holiday!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Two dogs

We took Izzy back from the kennel with Jem last week and had her at home for an afternoon. She and Jem are very different.



Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cooking


Beef stroganoff & cole slaw / scrambled eggs, baked beans, and potato pancakes

Chicken pot pie / Coconut macaroons

Chicken salad & steamed broccoli / sausage and wild rice in roasted acorn squash

Mushroom stew / Balsamic chicken, wild rice, and roasted sweet potatoes

Transform! Cabbage to cabbage rolls

Thumprint cookies with cherry cranberry relish / chicken fajitas

Spinach, mushroom, feta pie / butternut squash soup and rolls

Goat cheese and pistachio bites (for Miranda's shower)

Enchanted

I just saw Enchanted and it was fantastic. Very funny, we were laughing out loud. I loved all the references to old movies, and apparently I missed a lot (check the link for a wikipedia list of tons of references). I thought they recycled a lot of animation during the first section. If anyone else sees it, let me know if you agree that they reused Prince's Philip's fat dad adjusting his belly (redone as Nathanial), Alice falling down the hole (when Giselle falls to NY), and sleeping beauty petting the animals (by Giselle in the very beginning). There's probably some others, let me know if you catch them.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving in Maine

We spent the holiday in Augusta, Maine visiting Ben's folks. I got to cook most of the Thanksgiving dinner. I was nervous about it, but everything turned out really good. The weather was misty cold the first day, but sunny the next couple days. Even so, I packed way too light; I was freezing for most of the trip! Traveling was surprisingly smooth, if long (12 hours to get there, 14 hours to get home). DIA had parking, ticketing, and security well organized and even had an old-timey band playing near the security lines.










Monday, November 12, 2007

Jack

We had dinner at Jack in the Box tonight. That's right, in Colorado. Apparently Ben, Brian, and Nate weren't the only ones excited to eat there. It took 2 hours to get our food. Apparently it was worth it to them. I kind of feel like I have a wad of greasy socks in my stomach.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Planning the Big Dinner

I've been working on my menu and shopping list for Thanksgiving in Maine. Here's the list of ingredients and kitchen tools needed beyond basic knives, spoons, and cutting boards, in case you want to cook along


> Herb roasted turkey with gravy
* Turkey
* rosemary, sage, thyme
* onion, carrot, celery
* de beurre, de beurre, encore de beurre
* roasting pan with rack, pastry brush

> Garlic Mashed Potatoes
* russet potatoes
* garlic cloves
* milk and butter
* potato masher

> Wild rice and mushroom dressing
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 onion
* 2 celery stalks
* 1 or 2 boxes of wild-rice blend
* 2 or 3 cups of mushrooms (button type, portabellos, dried shitaakes, etc)
* Sauce pan

> Cranberry sauce with dried cherries
* 12 ounce package of fresh or frozen cranberries
* 1 cup dried cherries
* 1 cup sugar
* Small sauce pan

> Brussel sprouts with hazelnuts
* 1 pound fresh brussel sprouts
* salt and pepper
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 2 tablespoons blanched hazelnuts (
* Large skillet

> Green bean casserole
* I'm not making this one, Betty is.
* casserole dish

> Pumpkin pie
* 3/4 cup sugar
* salt
* spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves
* 2 eggs
* 1 15 oz can of pumpkin
* 1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
* 1 9 inch graham cracker pie shell (to make our own we can do a basic pie crust
with flour, sugar, water, and butter)
* mixing bowls
* Pie plate

> Appetizers
* Pepperidge farm cheddar cheeseballs are a favorite, served with wheat thin
crackers.
* Cornichons are little garlicky pickles. Of course, giant tart dills are Ben's
favorite (blech).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

School goes on

Here I am over halfway through my last semester of prerequisites. The classes have been going exactly as I expected.

Logic - incredibly boring subject, terrible teacher, but easy to pass
Nutrition - not learning a darned thing because food and exercise are already a hobby for me, and my sciences courses cover everything else this class teaches, only in more detail
Eastern World Religions - babbling professor who wants most of all for us to understand how reductionist western cultures are, and how we can't ever really know these religions. Most actual information (not politically correct jibber jabber) is a repeat of what I learned in my electives at CU. Same with the jibber jabber. So again, not learning much.
Old Testament - A once a week grueling class of looking at the Hebrew Bible from a literary and historical perspective. It's far to easy to wow the teacher with my "critical thinking."
Anatomy and Physiology 2 - the only class I enjoy, nay, love. I wish this was stretched out so we could go into the biochemistry in more detail. My new professor (different from part 1 I took over the summer) is fantastic. What I find one of her best qualities is that she knows how to work the classroom computers and projectors. In fact she uses a tablet PC to add notes to her lectures as we go. Why can't all teachers take a course on how to use their equipment? It drives me crazy when they claim ignorance and blame the machines for malfunctions.

In short, I'm almost through and I'm very happy about that. I've applied to three nursing programs, in preferred order: Regis University, CU Denver, and Metro State College. Regis sends out their decisions first, on Dec. 3rd. I can't wait to find out if I'm in. It's clearly the best school/program with a great reputation around the state, and a great location for commuting. It's also the most competitive for admittance. I'm worried about not getting in for a couple reasons. One, letting my ego take such a blow. See, I've been meeting a lot of other prospective nursing students. They're not the brightest bulbs in the pack. I think if most of my competition is like the students I meet then I'm pretty set. Second, if I don't get into Regis then this mind numbing semester of blahbbity blah courses will be for naught. Don't try and say "Oh Rachel, it's always good to take critical thinking courses and learn about other cultures." No. I did that. Like, 50 hours of that at CU four years ago. I'm done with that. So I really hope Regis makes this time worthwhile.

Besides school I'm holding down some part time work at my office and doing the old transcription for the Retina Center. Who knew I'd have the same job I started my junior year of high school? :-) It's nice to have a reliable fallback.

I still go to ballet once a week. I haven't had time for the cat shelter but I plan to go more when this semester is over. With the cold weather I've resumed knitting. Molly apparently loves chicken nuggets, Jem has learned to roll over, and the beta fish is still alive. I finally set up my surround sound properly this last weekend. Hey, I haven't fully tested it yet. That's a good excuse to end this post. Off I go to watch the opening sequence of LOTR.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween!

It finally came, yea! yea! Ben and I were commissioned to put on a Halloween Party for the ward on Saturday. We had a moderate turn out (I think the World Series might have deterred a few guests) but everyone seemed to have a great time. Ben and I went as Nick and Nora Charles. Nate turns into a fantastic Napoleon Dynamite.


I toasted some savory and sweet pumpkin seeds after carving pumpkins with friends last weekend. Here's the thing though, all the tasty toppings I could coat them with doesn't cover of the pumpkin seeds don't taste that good. But it's a fun project anyway :-)



Halloween Day was spent doing crafts with Brian. We turned an old treasure box of mine into a tricky candy box. I made scary silhouettes to light up our front window.







The sock puppet monster box was a great success, entertaining the older kids and slightly scaring the younger ones as they reached into the chest for their candy. On the right are our friends' kids Parker and Carter with April's amazing handmade costumes. Carter wanted to be a dog and they modeled his costume on Jem! His collar even has her name (it's a good thing he's too young to care that Jem is a girl dog). We wanted to dress Jem up like Carter with a kid's hoodie and some blond hair, but we thought of it too late to execute. I doubt it would has lasted more than a couple minutes anyway.