Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I'm looking out at our balcony right now, where earlier there was snow, then water, and now ice puddles. The yards beyond are all white. I find this remarkable, as Roger likes to boast of Christmases spent in short sleeves walking on the beach. People around here are all shaking their heads, insisting that winter just isn't like this here. (That's why so many retirees retire to Powell River--because winters are mild, if a bit rainy.)

Today, my 31st birthday, started with a trip to the gym (a gift to myself). My sister surprised me with a call from North Carolina this afternoon. Her family was supposed to be on their way to Mom & Dad's, but the icky weather in West Virginia made them decide to put their travel plans on hold for a day. (At least she got to make cookies.) We hope to be able to connect via webcam on Christmas day.

A few weeks ago, Mom & Dad surprised me by shipping my KitchenAid stand mixer to me, along with a box of some of my (more durable) Christmas ornaments and my elves. Roger spent a couple hours today taking apart the mixer because grease had leaked out while it was in transit and he wanted to clean it up and make sure it was done leaking before I use it. I tried not to be nervous (and I mostly wasn't) while he dismantled this machine I've been so missing for the last eleven months.

For our anniversary, a friend gave us a live Christmas tree. It's really small, so my plan was to decorate it with my smaller earrings, already attached to hooks. Turns out, it's too tiny for even that, so while I went through my box of ornaments, explaining to my husband why I'm so attached to each of them, he found some lightweight ones that he managed to hang on our tree. The star is a snowflake pin I got a few years ago. Attaching the pin to the top of the tree on its own made it droop like Charlie Brown's tree, so Roger bolstered it with a pencil.

Roger was impressed with the Christmas countdown my grandparents made all their grandkids when we were little. He proclaimed it our second tree.

So between the snow, the ornaments from home and the two trees with presents underneath (apparently, I forgot to mention to Mom that gifts aren't supposed to be wrapped when they go over borders), it's feeling an awful lot like Christmas here. In spite of not having unpacked the boxes in the living room yet.

So merry Christmas, everyone. To all my family and friends back in Ohio (and elsewhere)--I love and miss you. I hope we'll be able to be back in Ohio for the holidays next year.

These two elves have been guarding my wine for the past few weeks.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

So I'd been craving the french dip roast beef my mom made, and finally, I checked the family cookbook she made us--and it wasn't there! So I e-mailed her, and she dug out the recipe and sent it to me, and I was able to make it last week. Roger's been putting the leftover beef in ramen (beef) soup for lunch.

And it's just so good (and simple), I have to share it. (Unfortunately, I don't remember which of her friends she got this from.)

Slow Cooker French Dip Roast Beef

3 lb beef chuck pot roast
1/3 c vinegar (I've used both--white & cider)
1 lg onion, cut up
3 bay leaves
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t garlic powder

Combine the ingredients & pour over meat (stab the roast a bit). Marinate overnight. Place all into crock pot in the morning. Cook on low for 10-12 hrs. Use French rolls or croissants (we used croissants at my mom's, but I made French rolls), split & line them w/spinach or lettuce leaves. (We skipped the greens.) Discard the bay leaves. Skim the fat off the top of the liquid and ladle au jus into dipping dishes. Shred the beef onto the sandwiches (careful--it's hot!). Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Today is Roger's & my first anniversary. A year ago, we were at the end of an exhausting 30-hour race from Boise, Idaho to our wedding in my parents' living room in Pemberville, Ohio. Looking back, we're amazed that we made it--winter storms, blown-out engine, rush-hour just outside Chicago, almost no sleep in 48 hours.

It's only right, then, that we spent today sleeping in. (Last night was the Three Leaf Construction holiday party, so we were out kinda late.) I made cinnamon rolls, but managed to bake them under the broiler instead of in bake mode. (I don't think that would've happened if it hadn't been for the fact that the oven doesn't actually have the words "bake" & "broil"--just symbols.) Still, it only resulted in a hard caramelized top (and a few instances of burned sugar). They're, otherwise, delicious. (And they were really easy!)

Tonight's plans are simple: a choral festival called Carols by Candlelight. (If my poor, congested husband is up to it.)

Amazingly, it's been snowing all day. Or maybe it's not so amazing--the forecasts said we'd be getting our dose of winter weather this weekend. It probably won't be sticking around, but I'll settle for a little bit of snow before Christmas.

(Reception dinner at Mancy's Italian in Toledo, Ohio.)