Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bonne Annee

Dear 2o08,
You were quite a year, my friend. You brought some amazing things into our lives - a new home, our nephew Baby Ryan, our niece Zoe who is on the way, and of course, my engagement with Tim. (No wonder I feel tuckered out, a lot did happen this year). You were full of good health and a lot of happy moments. And while so many people are ready for you to be over, I for one think you were pretty swell. Well, except for that whole economy thing. But what are a few billion, trillion dollars between friends, right? 2009, I can't wait to see what you have in store. A marriage, maybe a baby?
Who can say for sure?
2009, please treat us well. Keep my family and friends healthy and happy.
Cheers to all of you - I hope this year is your best yet!

Friday, December 26, 2008

No words...

I will spare you all of the unpleasant details and just say that our Christmas Day was nothing short of a series of unfortunate events. After a rediculously awful day, Tim and I came home and I went to bed. At 4AM, we were rocked out of our sound sleep by pounding on our front door. When we got downstairs, there was just a business card from the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner. My heart dropped - I immediately began calling my parents to make sure they were okay while Tim tried to reach the number on the business card. I just was frantic thinking that someone in my family or Tim's family had been hurt or worse. I don't know that I've ever been so scared. By the time we got a hold of the sheriff's station, we learned that a wayward teenager had been caught breaking into cars on our street and they were trying to find out whose presents he had stolen. It just so happened that all of our wrapped presents were still in Tim's car (because after the dabaucle of the day, I didn't even want them in my house!) Thankfully, nothing of ours has been taken that we know of.
I am sad that evil people were able to ruin the spirit of Christmas for me this year. After I visited my friend Julie's blog tonight, I was touched by her husband's Christmas message and reminded of the goodness and pure meaning of this holiday. I am looking forward to a better couple of days ahead.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Musings

Hello and Merry Christmas from our little Dove Canyon Cottage. It has been a busy couple of days around here but I just couldn't cuddle up and fall asleep without visiting you all and sharing some fun photos of Christmas as it is coming together.
I wrapped my last few gifts - and put a fun little box of pink goodness together for my niece Zoe who is due late Feb/early March. Oh boy, is she in for a lot of attention - being the first girl in the family. Hence, the rediculously expensave damask shoes that I just had to buy for her. Cute, aren't they? Etsy, you rock my world.
What doesn't rock my world is Tim's affinity for buying gifts that are impossible to wrap. I buy the adult gifts, he buys the kiddo gifts. For some reason, nothing that he buys is square, and if it is, it is so big it takes ten rolls of paper to cover it. He really outdid himself with these night vision binoculars he bought for our nephew Zack. Is that not the most impossible thing to wrap ever? And it doesn't help when your cat is hanging out in the middle of it all. Breathe, Kristin, Breathe...
But look how lovely they all look, nestled under our tree.
After I finished wrapping, we headed out to Tim's mom Marsha's house in Coto to celebrate with them since we will be with my fam tomorrow. Her house looked so lovely, decked perfectly for the season. Here are Shane, Zack, and Drew enjoying some treats! Tim's mom made a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner followed by opening presents.
Our boy Zack in his pajamas - he loved handing out the gifts.And of course, my little Shane - he is the sweetest of the boys in Tim's family, I am telling you. He loved helping me open my presents.

And our little godson Ryan - dreaming of sugarplums after an evening of Christmas magic.
"And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight - Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Guess what I watched tonight...

I couldn't love this movie any more. In fact, even more than the movie, I love the music. And Judy Garland...everything she sings is magic. I wrapped gifts and sang along. Just a few more days to get everything done! Be back tomorrow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Five on Friday (the "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" version

1. It has been a crazy week! Every Christmas, I start questioning my own sanity and wishing I had a job that enabled me to enjoy the season a little more. But, truth be told, I love the hustle and bustle of it all. I had the day off today and I feel recharged and ready to tackle the next few days.
2. I "guilt" baked some cookies tonight. Tim told me that a lady at his corporate office was baking holiday cookies and he asked her if she was making these babies... He told her how much he loves them and she said she would try to send him some. That made me feel guilty, so I decided to bite the bullet and make them myself. What a crummy fiancee I am. They turned out pretty though, didn't they?

3. I am so excited to be so prepared with my shopping this year. I am like 90% done with my list. I just have to pick up Tim's gift and something for my boss and then I am done. I even have about half of them wrapped. So unlike me. I am usually my mom's girl, running around like an idiot at the last minute and then speed wrapping on Christmas Eve. Not this year!!

4. I got a really fun surprise in the mail today. My cousin Katerin in Greece sent me a really lovely Christmas card and a beautiful calendar with photos of Crete, the island that my dad is from in Greece. What a treat! I told Tim that that is my favorite part of Christmas - little surprises full of thought that you aren't expecting. Cousin, you made my day and reminded me of the spirit of the season. Thanks so much! I can't wait to hang it up and remember your kindness when I look at it.

5. My Christmas cards are done! I know, I am so late. They will go in the mail in the morning and arrive probably on Christmas Eve. Better late than never, right?
And here is one for you, my dear blog friends
Thanks for being such a special part of my life.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Save a little wine for the bread" Bread

You know those recipes that you just pull out for the holidays. Like they would be completely out of place any other time of year...well this is one of those. We got this recipe from my mom's friend Marge when I was a little kid. It is amazing. This was my first shot at making it myself. I haven't had it in about 10 years - it was just as good as ever. Tim is convinced that it could be made way more often than once a year!
Here's what you need:
For the cake:
1 package yellow cake mix with pudding in the mix
1 small package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup sherry
1 tbsp. Almond extract
2 tsp. Nutmeg
1/3 cup poppy seeds

For the Glaze:

2 tbsp. Melted butter
3 tbsp. Sherry
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
½ tsp. Nutmeg

Directions Beat together all ingredients (except for poppy seeds) for 10 minutes by hand. Add poppy seeds. Pour into 2 9x5 inch loaf pans or 4 mini loaf pans (greased). Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes. When cooled, remove from pans and pour glaze over tops.
I know what you are thinking, rediculously easy, right?
The only catch is the poppy seeds - evidently they are really expensave - I've never bought them before. I did a double batch and spent $9.00 on poppy seeds!!
Poppy seeds - $9.00
Other ingredients - $12.00
Recreating a family favorite in your own home while listening to Christmas music
- Totally Priceless.
Oh, and evidently they freeze well. Not that any of my loaves will make it that long!!
So, your turn - what is a traditional family food you always eat at Christmas time?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Road Not Taken

Last spring, I left a job that I loved dearly at a company I had worked for and been loyal to for over ten years. I left at the peak of my career, after being given a position that I had worked a whole decade to get. I left because I saw the future of my beloved company was in jeopardy - the entire greeting card industry in fact - seemed in jeopardy. Good old fashioned cards and letters have long been replaced by texts, e-cards, and email. One day I had to tell a woman in her early sixties who had been with the company for nearly twenty years (who coincidentally had heart problems) that her store was closing. I had shopped at her store with my mom when I was a little child and here I was, two decades later telling her that she was going to be jobless. It was probably the worst day of work I have ever had to do. After closing nearly 15 stores, I started looking for a different company to grow with. I knew that I couldn't buy a house knowing that my career was unstable.

I accepted my current position in June 2007. It was the hardest choice I've ever made - because I loved my job. I loved my boss - I've never had a mentor that I loved or treasured the way I loved her. I put in my notice via email, got on a plane to Washington state (for work) and by the time I got off the plane, my phonemail was full of messages - asking me not to leave. After a lot of agonizing, I decided to leave. My new job was a step down from my "big fish in a little pond" status that I had at my old company. I went to a place where no one knew me, knew my accomplishments, or my abilities. It was amazingly difficult and I honestly have regretted leaving at times when my job has gotten difficult or I have missed being a part of my old familiar company. But I knew today would come.

Today, I found out that nearly 300 employees were let go, including my dear friend Erik who really was "one of the good guys." Thirty more stores are planned to close, and I worry that the rest can't be too far behind. It hurts to see something that I loved so dearly and worked so hard for start to fail. I invested ten years of my life to help that company make it. It seems like it is for nothing. I think about the days I spent at the corporate office and all of the friends I had there. I wonder which 300 people it was. Which faces, which names, which departments. I worry about the rest of my friends and my poor boss who I care for so much. My heart is heavy.

And yet, I am so thankful for making the decision that I made a year and a half ago. I know me and I would not be able to make it with the stress of so many friends being let go and worrying if I was next. Please pray for my friends at American Greetings. I have never known a better group of people. So much of who I am is because of them - their leadership, their guidance, their friendship. May God bless them and keep them all in his sight.

Sweet Little Reminder

When we decorated the tree on Sunday, I came across this. Tim and I decided to hang it as a little reminder of our girl and how much we love her. We both said that if she were here, she would be hanging out right under the tree - she loved this time of year. I hope she is lounging under a big Christmas tree in heaven and I hope they forgive her just like we did when she knocked a few ornaments down here and there.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I have dreamed of having a house to decorate for Christmas for as long as I can remember. I walked into my house for the first time right about this time last year. I remember driving up at night with our realtor and seeing every house on our street brightly lit with decorations. Our lonely house was the only one without any holiday spirit - empty and waiting for someone to come and make it beautiful. I remember standing in the future baby room (upstairs where the wreath is) and looking out into the neighborhood, knowing that it would be our home. We made our offer on December 9th and on December 12th they told us that they had accepted an all cash offer that we just could not match. We were devastated. Then, the next day, they called and said that the offer had fallen through and that the house was ours. And so it was, and is. I am so thankful that it is ours - sometimes I can still hardly believe we live here! Doesn't it just look perfect, all lit up for Christmas? Tim did a fabulous job - not too shabby for his first attempt at hanging outdoor lights. I bought that wreath for $5.00 at Home Depot after Christmas last year and could not wait to put it up! I love a good bargain. Wishing you Christmas cheer, from our home to yours.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Look at this face...

My nephew Nick - clearly someone hasn't told this boy that the man in the beard brings gifts...lots and lots of gifts! When I saved this photo, I titled it "bravery" because that is what I see in his little face. Nick, I hope that someday you love visiting Santa as much as Auntie K used to (it was like my favorite thing to do!) and I hope you won't be upset with me for printing this picture and framing it. Boo boo face and all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cottage Style Christmas...Brought to Life

I have always been a red and silver kind of girl when it comes to Christmas decorating. That all changed when I got inspired by some of my fellow bloggers last holiday season. I fell in love with the bottle brush trees and pastel colored houses that are the trademark of Cottage Christmas decorating. Last year for Christmas, my mom surprised me with a whole collection of about 12 of these houses that she had hunted down at homegoods and at antique stores. I packed them up knowing that I would be able to use them in my new house this year. When I told my mom that I wanted to do a whole room themed with the houses for Christmas, she began collecting the ornaments for me too. This past weekend, she gave me about two dozen ornaments including about a dozen that she had originally bought for herself. What a gift. She even had a spare white artificial tree that she donated to the cause. Is it not just incredible?Aren't the houses just too special and precious?
And at the bottom of the bag of ornaments - hand chosen and given to me with so much love was this small silver ornament - totally out of place with my little houses and yet it symbolizes everything my tree means to me. I hung it up with my houses as if to tell the story of the tree- built with love.
Mom, I hope this room and the tree do your beautiful houses justice. Thank you for
helping me bring my cottage Christmas to life.


Have you ever heard of the video game Rockband? Well, if you haven't, you aren't alone. I don't think I had ever heard of it before about three weeks ago when I got invited to...what else...a Rockband Party! My friend Charlie (fellow GM) invited a few friends from work including myself and I just had to go. We each had to bring an appetizer, so this was one of two dishes that I brought...
The Mama Cass Ham Sandwich And Elvis' favorite - peanut butter and banana sandwiches. I had to keep with the rock theme, right? I have to say, I had a great time. I sang a few songs and played a lot of plastic guitar. Guess you had to be there. Happy December 1st (now December 2nd) to you all.
PS - I decorated my shabby chic Christmas room. I can't wait to show you pics and tell you the story of how my tree came to be. Get your tissues ready.