Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Extravaganza Round-Up Part II

Now that I'm mostly over that pesky bug that one of my house guests gave me, as well as the minor accident we were in the Sunday before last, I can finally finish my wrap-up! (We're both fine, though Husbandido's car needed 4 new tires, and I am really not thinking about the "minor" body damage that knocked out one of the running or fog lights yet. [Is 2013 over yet? I'm really hoping for a better 2014.])

I was fortunate that my mother was willing to help with the cooking after my brother's family arrived. Let's face it, playing with a grandchild is probably a lot more fun than making potatoes au gratin or roasting a turkey. Together Mom, Husbandido, and I put together a pretty good Thanksgiving feast. We struggled a little with the GF pumpkin pie (Pillsbury refrigerated GF pastry dough), but it turned okay, if a little over cooked. (While the crust wasn't particularly buttery tasting or flaky, it was perfectly serviceable - meaning that while it wouldn't compare to the best gluten containing pastries/pie crusts I have had or made, it was good.) It took searching through a few cookbooks to find a recipe for potatoes au gratin that worked with the ingredients that we had, but they turned out fine. Our turkey looked tiny in the giant roasting pan, but it avoided any liquid overflow (like when we hosted Christmas for the in-laws a couple a couple of years ago... I'm still hearing about the smoke and having to kick everyone outside briefly while I cleaned the inside of the oven). 

The  big excitement of Thanksgiving was our uninvited guest late in the evening; an uninvited guest of the variety that we are NOT supposed to have, given our 3 cats. Yep, my SIL, sitting and reading in the living room, spotted a mouse. Husbandido, Dad, and Brother took to the task of hunting down the mouse. I tried to enlist first Biscuit, who was completely unwilling to be around so many strangers and hid behind the TV stand, then Robin. Fortunately for me, after a while Robin realized what was up; he did a great job following the mouse and flushing him out from under the sofa. After Robin caught the mouse, he happily trotted through the dinning room, past my mom, into the office, where more problems arose. You see, Robin didn't want to give up the mouse, and when Husbandido eventually convinced him to let go for more than a moment, the mouse ran under his desk. The one good point is that the office has a door, so at least the mouse was contained. Husbandido's desk is large heavy piece, with a hutch on top, so getting that mouse back out took some doing. Eventually, though the mouse was vanquished.

Friday proved to be the most difficult day of the visit. We went to Sarris' Candies and Ice Cream to celebrate my mom and SIL's birthdays. Since there wasn't a table big enough for all of us to fit around open, we split into 2 tables, Husbandido and I at one table, everyone else at the other. What was so hard for me was seeing my mom talking about kids and child rearing with my brother and SIL, knowing I may never have those kinds of discussions about the stages children grow through and her advice and wisdom. The other interesting event was decorating. Since Saturday was when we would celebrate Christmas, it was time to get all the decorations up. I've never "speed decorated" before, and honestly, I hope I don't need to repeat the experience! I usually really enjoy the process of decorating, but feeling crunched for time made it a lot less fun. Then there was also trying to set aside particularly sturdy/nonbreakable ornaments for Posey (my new nickname for our 16 month old niece) to "help" decorate with. Her help mostly consisted of picking up ornaments and carrying them around in bags, boxes, or baskets. It was really cute... if slightly frustrating, given time constraints. Here are a few pictures of the house decorated.

(You can't tell clearly from the picture, but the angel on the left is mourning, while the one on the right is holding an infant.)
(Yep, I am a total sucker for Precious Moments. I also refuse to remove our memorial for the child we lost from the mantle.)

Saturday, we took Posey to a Gymboree open gym. Conveniently, the Gymboree is located in a shopping mall, so the rest of us were able to go shop while her dad and grandmother took turns supervising her. Shopping with my mom and SIL had some good moments, and some bad. It's never a good feeling when one of the people you are shopping with is asking for a size smaller, especially when that is one you have no hope of ever fitting into. (And I had been feeling pretty good about losing close to 10 lbs, too. Nothing like comparisons to leave you feeling like a fat blob.) When Posey was getting tired, my mom brought her out, to join everyone else; only she hadn't realized that my brother had put her shoes in the stroller, so she searched for them in the shoe cubbies. Mom put what she thought were the right shoes on Posey, then started walking around with her. When we ran into them, we had to let her know that she was a shoe thief. Thankfully she was able to return the shoes before their actual owner (or her parents) found them missing. 

Saturday evening was the big Christmas celebration. My Mom loved the wreath I had made for her. 

Brother and SIL seemed to appreciate Father Leo's book, and were at least amused by the Raku pottery piece (purchased) and wreath I made to match. (They really aren't into decorating.)
I received a ridiculous amount of GF baking mixes from King Arthur and Cup 4 Cup (produced by Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame; Brother and SIL are foodies), so expect another major product review post in the not too distant future.

Mom and Dad didn't quite know what to make of the gecko/Redwood burl objet d'art that I made (other than "it's going to wait until they drive out to come home with them"), but I think they liked it. It is a bit... overwhelming. Fortunately it's outdoor safe, intended for placement in their front courtyard.

This is the chaos after all the presents were opened. I'm letting the cats have the boxes to play with for a while, though there's been less playing than I anticipated.

Sunday morning my mom woke up very sick; sick enough that we thought my parents might need to delay their return to Arizona. Mom managed to get up and dressed in time to say goodbye to my brother's family. Amazingly, Dad got almost all their things packed in their suitcases, and they did leave on their scheduled flight. I was worried, but Mom made it back okay. It was nice to have everyone visit, but I've been enjoying the peace and more relaxed schedule now that everyone's gone.


  1. Wow, it all sounds like a jam packed time! Hopefully Christmas Day will be a little more relaxing for you.

  2. You are so crafty!!!! Luv the wreath you made. Can u teach me?!?! :-) My DH would be jealous of all your pretty bookcases! He loves books. It sounds like you hosted a lovely weekend! ...glad the gf pumpkin pie was too bad.