Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goddess of Cocoa and Chocolate

Aunt Mary has decided that I should be called the Goddess of Cocoa. Probably because every other sentence out of my mouth was "You know, chocolate / cocoa / sugar _______ would go really great with this. I made candy, pudding, hot cocoa, and cake. We had a bit of chocolate with almost every meal. This won't surprise anyone who knows me and my sweet tooth, but I kind of like the new moniker, Goddess of Cocoa - it suits me. In honor of this title here's my Mom-Mom's candy recipe, which is what started this whole thing. We used to have this always at Christmas - but I'm sure it's delicious anytime of year. This recipe takes patience, and doesn't always turn out right (it didn't set completely in New Mexico) but even the mistakes are delicious.
Mom-Mom's Candy
3 cups sugar
3 heaping teaspoons cocoa
1/8 teaspooons salt
1 1/2 cups milk

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium pot
Stir in milk - heat on low and stir continuously
Let mixture boil (about 20 minutes)
When the mixture begins to thicken (approximately another 15 minutes) Add 1/2 stick a butter

Test every minute with the cold water test:
Use a spoon to drop a drop of the candy mixture into a cup of cold water
When the mixture forms a ball in the water take the mixture off of heat

Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter

Pour onto a buttered platter (13 - 18 inch oval or round) one with a vertical lip works best. Let platter sit until candy is hard. (several hours)

If the candy sets correctly it can be cut into squares of a hard sugar like consistency. If it does not set correctly it will be more like taffy and should be eaten with a spoon.


New Mexico, part 2

On Tuesday we had a breakfast of english muffins and hot cocoa. (The first night we made a quick trip to the grocery for cocoa and sugar, two things every household should never be without.) Then Mary and I took Valerie shopping for some boots, so we could hike some. She got some UGG like boots with "LOVE" on the backs from Marshalls. She is so stylin' now.

After breakfast and shopping I made come candy (gotta love the cocoa) then we went for a short walk / hike in the snow covered foot hills of the mountain. Somehow we found the perfect mix of exercise and relaxation.

After lunch we went to Old Town Albuquerque for some shopping and sightseeing. We went to the old church there and saw the nativities and walked through some of the galleries and stores. There is so much artwork to be found. And everything is decorated for Christmas.Then when it got dark we went to the botanic garden for the Christmas light show. All the trees have lights. And there are hundreds of mechanical lawn lights. I liked the elephants that sprayed water on each other - of course that one we didn't get a picture of...

For dinner we had some authentic Mexican food. The first restaurant had a super-long wait so we went to the back-up. The food was pretty good, but the memorable part were the sopaipas. These fried dough pieces that you fill with honey are one of the most delicious foods I've ever eaten. Yum! (There is much talk of food in these posts from our trip, but we ate oh so well.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Mexico, part 1

Catching the Plane and Seeing the Mountains:Last Monday Rob, his mom Valerie, and I flew to Albuquerque to visit Rob's Aunt Mary and her husband Ahad. We got in right on time after some early morning airport drama.

I travel frequently alone, and rarely check bags. Hence, I forgot all about crazy Christmas travel and people who don't fly often, and also forgot to take into account that we were checking bags and traveling with someone who has not flown since before 9-11. So I only allotted an hour and 15 minutes to check-in and get through security. The car was 15 minutes late, and by the time we got to the airport at 6 for a 6:55 flight, well you can imagine. The kiosk wasn't working for us because we had a flight that had been changed several times or some other unknown reason; and of course the line to see an agent was at least 90 minutes. Uggh. So we got to cut in line to get our boarding passes, and then I talked our way in to cutting in the security line too. Luckily we had no liquids or gels to worry about. And we made our flight just fine. Or bags however did not, and upon arriving in Albuquerque we left our address with the airline, and our bags were delivered about 8 hours later. Crises averted; I'll file this under things to remember about holiday travel.

Monday with Mary and Ahad was pretty low key, we were all jet lagged and stuff. They have the most beautiful house with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Oh how beautiful!

We're Back and Ready for 2009

We're back from New Mexico and starting to settle back into a routine. We are coming up with this theory that time moves faster on the east coast. Sunday was spent lounging around after the nearly 12 hours of travel on Saturday. Then yesterday and today, so much to do on the "To Do" list, and as I am looking at it now a lot has been crossed off, but there is still so much to do. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

I am spending this week cleaning and organizing for the 2009 plan. I'm going to visit my mom this weekend, hence the jump-start. We are starting off this year in very different circumstances. Last year we were working at Nick Jr. and talking about getting engaged, this January we are married and jobless. It's a scary place to start the new year, looking for work, but we have a plan.

We have been trying to simplify our lives and minimize our possessions since Rob and I combined households. I've found a few good blogs that give lots of ideas on living simply, and on a budget. One idea implemented this week is that of meal planning. I've been doing this somewhat for awhile, because it is much easier to go to the grocery with an idea of what you're going to make with the food bought. What we are doing now, is putting a budget to the plan. $50 a week. I sat down on Sunday night and made a list of 25 meals (some are repeats) for January. No 31, because there will be leftovers, and the occasional meal at a friends home. I planned the first week, and loosely laid out the other four. This way we can move things around and try not to have beef four days in a row for example. And since I have more time, we can watch the sales and cook around that.

This week's menu:
Monday - stuffed salmon with grilled aspargus (we had salmon in the freezer)
Tuesday - Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Wednesday - Skyline Chili
Thursday - French Bread Pizza
Friday - Indian chicken from Natascha

We came in at just under $60 for the week. That is $10 over budget, but food for lunches and some of the ingredients will be used next week. Hopefully we can make up the difference later in the month.

We are also cutting all unnecessary spending with the exception of a $10 fun budget for each of us each week. Yesterday we each spent $2.50 at Alpha Donut. There is so much mindless spending that goes on in our lives. I'm going to keep on the blog searching for more ways to simplify and budget our lives.

We are keeping hope that by mid-year those awesome jobs will once again have come to us, and we can have the occasional dinner out.

I just remembered one more thing. We FINALLY dropped off two bags of clothes, kitchen supplies, and a CD player to the Salvation Army thrift store. The unexpected upside is that we got a tax write off form from them, and since it is December 30 I don't have to keep it on file for a whole year - just until tax season is over.

Here's to living simply in 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Traveling for Christmas

We leave for Albuquerque early tomorrow morning. I'll post about the trip next weekend when we get back. I'll miss the Frazier and Ables family Christmases this year. I'll miss you all.
Merry Christmas!

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothing and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
- Luke 2:6-7

Friday, December 19, 2008

December 19

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!
Chloe had so much fun trying to make snowballs this afternoon.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fifteenth Day of Advent - too warm for words

Since today was so unseasonably warm, here is a picture from a summer day at the beach.

Undercover Ops

Location: Chinatown, New York, NY

Mission: 1 Louis Vuitton purse, and 2 Coach purses

I am occasionally asked to buy purses for those who don't live in New York for gifts. The last two missions to buy purses in New York, I have bought from the guys selling out of boxes and bags, once on 42nd street and once at World Trade Center. This time I tried Chinatown. There were no suitable bags hanging in the stores so after lunch we went "undercover" and when one of the many women whispering what they had to see said "Coach" I stopped. She didn't have a Louis Vuitton (LV) but a cohort did. So she walks us down the block and told us to follow the man she met. We did, down a side street and thought we would be taken into another building. Then the man said only two could come. We were three, and I had already made it very clear that the LV purchaser in the group was NOT splitting from the coach purchaser and husband. So I sent Rob and said I would wait on the street. The man unlocked a van and said get in. They did (Rob first checked that there was no driver in the driver's seat), and a few minutes later they emerged with a LV bag. Mission part one accomplished. Oh, and the guy first called someone he had on the street to make sure the coast was clear.

Then we had to get the Coach bags. We walked back to Canal street and found someone else whipsering "coach", we followed. This time only half a block and all three of us could get in. There were bags hanging all over the back of this seatless passenger van. I found the goods I wanted. then asked the price. Too high. I told her what I would pay. (Here is where I don't bargain well, always say LOWER than you want to pay) She gave another offer, still too high. We met in the middle of my first and her second. She said no. I stared at her, then the bags, then back at her. I waited. She said "ok, ok, here, here" took the bags from me and took our second offer. (why I should have started lower, then my second offer could have been my first)
Mission accomplished!

The bags are now on their way to thier new home.

Day Fourteen - Weekend Update

Krystle and Rob on the ponies.
So Krystle arrived on Saturday afternoon. We dropped her bag off at the apartment and headed back to Manhattan for some New York cuisine. To Ninth Avenue we went for Krystle's first taste of Thai food. I think she's a covert to it's deliciousness. Then we walked over to Rockefeller Center to see the tree at night. (no pics - oops) Then to St. Patrick's (see day 10) and Sak's (day 12). Oh! and we got chocolate covered marshmallows and strawberries on a stick for desert before heading home again.

Then today. We started the day by going to Central Park. But the N train just kept not coming, so we walked to the R train. And we saw the special holiday old train. So cool! So we got on even though it wasn't going to the stop we wanted. We got to ride a car from 1931.

Note the "real" fans on the ceiling used for ventilation.
After getting off the train, we walked up to Central Park, and saw the skating rink, and the carousel. Oh how we love the carousel. Here are some pictures of that, even though it's not really Christmas.

And then to Chinatown! Where we walked canal street. Then ate at Wo-hop, where we get the best chinese food ever. And then we had some purses to buy (see newer post). Mission accomplished.

We headed home to rest a bit before dinner. We went to the Jackson Diner in Queens for some Indian food, another first for Krystle.

Overall a busy but fun day. And Krystle enjoyed the taste of Asia.

Thirteenth Day of Advent

On the thirteenth day of advent we started out the day by giving our blood. Williamsburg Church was supposed to have a blood drive - but the truck's heat was broken, so they got another truck but it's heat was broken too. So those of us who were there got to give blood, then the rest of the drive was canceled. We'll try again in the spring. Rob did really well this time, he laid down and didn't get sick at all. I on the other hand got super nauseous and had to lay down for 15 minutes after I was done with a trash bag just in case. I didn't need the trash bag, and once I sat up and had some water, juice, and cheese it's I did just fine. The guy told me next time to have a non-diet soda right before I give, I guess to help with sugar.

After that we spent the rest of the day walking around and did pretty good being down a pint and all. We finished all of our Christmas shopping and got a topper for our tree finally. It's silver and has lots of glitter. It's not our ideal topper, we really want an angel topper that isn't creepy. So many of the angel are little wierd looking; the star will hold us over til we find the perfect one - or forever.
Then we picked up my cousin Krystle from the train station and began our NYC sightseeing weekend.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Twelve Days of Christmas

Here is a video of end of the Light Show on the facade of Sacks. If I go back I might try and get a better video of the beginning of the song.

The Bell Carol

Terribly Remis

So I have slacked off on my post a day. I have no excuse really none at all. It is hard to take a picture a day of something new and exciting. And my mom told me no fair posting fromteh archives - as she didn't read the post explaining that I was not making buckeyes this year - and thought I had been busy.

So I spent a few mornings this week babysitting the lovely little Chloe and helping Michelle out some. On Tuesday we went to the playground. Chloe loves the slide and swings. And for added entertainment we saw a dog chasing the mailman and he climbed onto a porch pillar until said dog's human came to rescue the mailman. High comedy I tell you. I've only ever read about this phenomenon of dog vs. mailman, now I've seen it in action.

Then Wednesday through Friday I got to work. And how I have missed my job. We tested a show about Astronomy. When asked what kinds of things you see when you look in outer space one kid said "heaven."

I have an action packed weekend ahead where one of my cousins will be visiting and I will be finishing Christmas shopping, the little I'm doing this year. And next week back to my life of unemployment and job hunting.

I will try for more pictures. I want to finish my advent. I wonder if I can figure out how to back post???

I figured it out! Days 9 - 13 are posted on the 14th but dated so it looks like they are all in order. Sweet! (except for this one - which I actually posted on the 12th but updated on the 14th. TMI - probably.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Eleventh Day of Advent

Christmas 2006 at the Frazier house. Grant and his fire-truck...eeee-oooo-eeee-oooo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tenth Day of Advent

Nativity at St. Patrick's

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

EIGHTH Day of Advent

Ornaments in a fountain, near work.

And a Santa near Rockefeller Center (he caught me taking his picture)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Day 7 - Give a Little

'Tis the Reason. Another from my walks last week.

The Salvation Army Bell Ringers are out in full force. And as an added bonus, in NYC they are performers as well. With music on the portable speakers they sing along, or ring bells in time to the music. It is not your average mid-western bell ringer. For me it is also a reminder that even in unemployment I have much to be grateful for and that there are those in much more need than I. Give a little if you get the chance.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Day 6

Here is another from the archives. Buckeyes! Classic Christmas candy. Unfortunately I did NOT make these yet this year, which means it probably won't happen. But I did have a Christmas party / get together tonight. Pics and a story to come...not tonight...tired.YUM!

Friday, December 5, 2008

On the fifth day of Advent

Let's make some cinnamon ornaments! Here is a picture of two I made last year and they still smell great. It's the recipe we always made with mom, I grew up smelling cinnamon.

To do it yourself, Mix and knead:
3/4 c cinnamon
1Tbs allspice
1Tbs nutmeg
2 Tbs cloves
1 c applesauce

Roll out to 1/4 inch thick and cut with you favorite cookie cutters. Bells and stars worked best for me. (I tried angels but the wings kept falling off) Poke a hole for string with a toothpick and lay out to dry on paper towels. Turn as needed, they take about three days to dry out.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A New Do

I got home from getting my hair cut this evening and did this little "photo shoot" with Rob. Can you guess which picture is his favorite. This is the hair when it's been blown straight. Look for pictures tomorrow of the wavy version. (Blogging is what I do to pass the time in unemployment.)

Fourth Day of Advent

Being unemployed around the holidays has one upside: lots of free time during the day to walk around and see the city all decked out for Christmas. Last night was the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center. Here are a few pictures from the plaza.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day 3

Today's picture is from the archives. Christmas 2004 (I think) Someone correct me if that's wrong - it's the year Emily came back from Argentina. This is me and my Grandma Frazier at her house for Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On the second day of advent

The plan for December is to post a picture a day leading up until Christmas.

Today's picture is from our date last night to see the Rockettes.And one of me.And now for those of you who like reading my ramblings: Some background on why we went to the show (paragraph 1), the great discount (paragraph 2), why I need to start a diet and exercise (paragraph 3), and a plea for help. If you read it all there is another picture.

The Rocketts are pretty awesome. When I used to dance, I always thought it would be the coolest job ever to be a Rockette. And I am tall enough to be the shortest Rockette. (Except I think they might have raised the height by half-an-in, so maybe not anymore) When the Rockettes are in thier kickline they line up by height giving the illusion that everyone is the same height (5'5.5" - 5'10.5" or 5'6" - 5'11") So much fun to watch. I saw the show for the first time a few years ago, and when I found out Rob had never been, it was really a given that we would end up at Radio City eventually. Last year is wasn't in the cards. But this year I was determined.

I found a $10 off per ticket coupon and went to the box office. I said I want the best seats in the second price range for any day the first two weeks of December. I got two tickets for December 1. And then the best present I could ask for, that I didn't even think of - I paid with my Capital One card. And because Capital One is sponsering the show this year, Capital One customers get 50% off. (I don't know this officially, but since I didn't ask why I got the discount it's all I can think of, if you have Capital One and live in NYC you should check it out) We got really good seats, five rows back, left section, and $36 EACH!

And now to why I need to diet. I know most people don't dress up for theater and shows and such, but I like to. Rob wore jeans with a blazer, and since it was warmish yesterday I planned to wear my spagetti strap Ann Taylor dress with the new H&M shrug I bought and heels instead of boots. So I started getting ready, I pulled out the dress and slipped it on and OH NO! I couldn't get the zipper up. At first I thought it was just that I couldn't quite reach the top of the zipper part. I debated put the sweater on and have Rob finish the zip when I get to the office to meet him. Or change. (This is when having a sister or husband at home when dressing is really really helpful) Unfortunatly it was just me. I looked at the zipper a few more minutes and came to the AWFUL and SAD conclusion that the 10 pounds I gained last winter / spring and have been trying so hard to avoid (I can still wear my casual clothes) have put me fully into a new fancy dress clothes size. The dress just didn't fit. So I went to option 2: my black skirt with a silk blouse and the shrug. This one fit, just a little to tight in the top, but too lowcut to work with the shrug. I was now bordering on running late due to wardrobe malfunction. I was left with three options: 1. wear a sweater and skirt and be hot, 2. wear my black strapless dress with a colored shrug sweater and hope for the best, 3. wear pants and just give up on fancy clothes. I went with option 2. The black strapless dress is all elastic, and doesn't fit as well as it once did in a time long ago, but it fit. With the sweater and boots I was good to go. I met Rob on time, we went to the show then out to dinner. A great night over all.

And now I am back to the delimma I and trying so had to ignore. Do I eat better and exercise (bearing in mind I am in one of those moods where I want to eat everything in sight, pizza and cheesburgers are the current cravings I don't have the food to fill in the apartment right now) or do I just accept it, donate all the old clothes and go on a shopping spree (bearing in mind I don't actually have a job at the moment) Any advice?

One more picture to reward anyone who actually read this far.A lameish picture - but we had awesome seats, and got to keep the 3D glasses.