Sunday, November 30, 2008


So I was teaching my cute Mia Maids (14 and 15 year old girls) a few Sundays ago, and we were talking about peer pressure in junior and high school....I said that it wasn't that long ago that I was in their shoes. And then I thought about it. Um, yeah, it's actually been a long time - I haven't been 14 for FIFTEEN years. 15! I think that puts me on the oldish side of "cool". Bah!

Saturday, November 29, 2008


We met friends from Harvard at their parents' home near San Antonio. What a blast! Luke played Risk, I got some girl talk, and everyone had great food - our friend's mom is a great cook! Thanksgiving got even better when at dessert I saw the cake. Cake!!! I LOVE cake!! Turns out that their younger brother's birthday was the previous day, and he wanted to save the cake for Thanksgiving. Nothing like rounding out a platter of pies with something covered in cream cheese frosting. Best idea ever!! I may have to incorporate this as a family tradition and have a "Brian birthday cake" every year.

Check out those vintage metal lunch trays! In this brilliant family tradition, on holidays the boys get to revel in massive amounts of well-organized food - the women prefer to stick with normal tableware.

No, Thanksgiving didn't careen into violence...That's not blood on Luke's sleeve, just cranberry sauce courtesy of Laurel's generosity.

I thought I'd share my cranberry sauce recipe because I LOVE it. I know a lot of people like those cranberry relishes which feature added citrus components (zest etc.), but I just cannot handle diluting my beloved berry dish that much (I'm a cranberry fiend - during the holidays when they go on sale, I stock up - I currently have 6 bags in my freezer and will be adding more by the end of the year.) My recipe is a simple adaptation of the recipe on the back of most bags of cranberries. Boil 1 cup water and 7/8 cup sugar, add the berries and simmer for 10 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, add tons of freshly grated ginger to taste. Scrumptious! You may want to up the sugar to decrease the tang, but I love this lip-smacking rendition. I may try it with crystallized ginger one year. Oh, and a recommendation for enjoying these as leftovers: use the extra heavy cream from your pie baking and add a bit to a bowlful of cranberry sauce; this makes for a decadently creamy breakfast.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cute Times Three

The Democratic Women

A trip to Utah isn't complete without a visit with the Democratic women - friends of ours since 2000. We often gather at Mary Lou's home - it's one of my favorite places on earth because she has a dynamite art collection and is a great artist in her own right. She gave us one of our favorite wedding presents: a painting of where Luke proposed.

Mary Lou and Laurel

Exploring Mary Lou's garden

Convention goodies

More Payson Pics

Uncle Eric and cousin Suede

Off to church

Laurel loved grandma's cats

Is there a kitty inside?

Payson Visit

Grandpa giving a hand before bathtime

Scrunchy-faced baby with lovely Grandma

Gorgeous cousin Maizy

Beautiful Aunt Jill

We made a quick trip to Utah last week to see family and it was a blast. Since Luke's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving (surprise...), he convinced his mom to have a proper dinner while we were in town. Needless to say, the week consisted of eating, baking (I made 6 pies!), and chatting. It was fabulous to see the mountains and wonderful to introduce Laurel to the rest of her relatives.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Night 2008

We had a fly party at our place with Luke's PhD cohort - Laurel slept through the entire festivities. We served "Real America" White Bean Chili (thank you Ms. Palin), Bipartisan Cookies, and "Better than the Bailout" Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Tasty! I had two platters of cookies to keep those competitive animals separated from one another - these were the vestiges at the end of the night - I think someone gnawed off those donkey's ears!

Luke's Ideal Way of Relaxing

Clearing trash and weeds from our newly inherited garden plot. Ever since I have known Luke, his outdoor exercise fantasies have centered on a) hiking and b) gardening. The owner of a neighboring plot gave us a just-picked carrot - what a revelation!

Vintage Dress

Adorable hand-smocked Polly Flinders!

Happy Halloween

In honor of our summer in Iowa, we dressed Laurel as an ear of corn.

Voter Fraud?

...Just because Laurel helped me press the "Cast Your Ballot" button? We joined half of Travis County voters by hitting the polls the week before Election Day.