31 December 2009


New year resolutions are a contentious topic, at least if you live with my husband, who happens to think they're rubbish. I don't make resolutions, per se, but I do try to pick up a good habit or two at the start of each new year. In college, I decided to stop machine-drying my undergarments and sweaters. All these years later, I'm still on board and getting a longer life out of my delicates. I've committed and failed many times to floss daily. For 2009, my cousin, Shannon, and I agreed to be in contact at least once a month. We emailed for the first half of the year, called for the second half of the year, and will hopefully keep up our regular contact for many years to come. I was touched by another cousin's resolution in 2009 when he committed to write a letter each month to someone who means a lot to him; the letter he sent me was one of the most special pieces of mail I've received.

This year, I'm going to commit to be a better granddaughter to all of our living grandparents. I'm going to write to each of them at least once a month. Check back with me at the end of 2010 to see whether I was successful.

In the mean time, I look forward to seeing what is in store for George, me, and our families and friends in 2010. Just think, last year at this time, we had no idea that 2009 would be the year our marriage would officially begin, the year when we would be blessed with visits from so many friends and family members, the year when George would enter management, and the year when I would confirm my legal passion. Beat that, 2010!

21 December 2009

Christmas Cookie Adventures

Yesterday, I spent nearly eight hours making Christmas cookies. The first four hours were really fun; the last four hours were not fun at all. Ah, well.

The Good: Cranberry Pinwheels and Ginger and Molasses CookiesThese pinwheels were the surprise of the day and my favorite of the lot by a lot. The ginger and molasses cookies both turned out well, though it's hard to tell them apart by color. Mmmmmm!

The pinwheels seemed complicated but ended up being worth the time. The dough, which includes orange peel, is rolled into a thin "square" and then covered with the cranberry, sugar, pecan filling. Then it's rolled, chilled, and sliced before baking. They tend to cook more evenly the thinner they're sliced. Look out for lots of varieties of pinwheels next year!

The Bad: Sugar CookiesWhen I got the dough out of the refrigerator, it was nearly frozen...so I let it thaw. By the time I got around to rolling it out, it was so soft that it was impossible to cut and lift. I was particularly disappointed because we were given these awesome kiwi- and New Zealand-shaped cookie cutters for the wedding, and I was excited about giving out NZ Christmas cookies. Only one Kiwi survived, and his little beak ended up burned. At least the boring, round cookies taste good. :-)

The Ugly: Buckeyes
Growing up, I loved buckeyes, but my mom rarely made them. After my frustrating experience yesterday, I totally understand. I used this recipe (with extra peanut butter because it was so dry), but I did not freeze the balls. Strike one: crumbling balls of peanut butter. Strike two: impossible chocolate and lack of double boiler. Good thing I didn't keep going long enough to get a third strike and give up forever!

Any guesses on which cookies were made during the first four hours and which were made during the second four hours?

This evening, George and I took some containers of cookies to a few of our neighbors. I got a real kick out of the various responses, all indicators of life in the 'burbs. One neighbor either wasn't home or didn't answer the door. Another neighbor's teenage son answered the door and was shocked when we identified ourselves as the immediate next door neighbors. A third neighbor was really surprised by the cookies and very pleased to meet us. It's sad that we don't really know our neighbors, aside from the occasional wave, even after living here for nearly three years. Perhaps this will open up an opportunity to get to know those who live (literally) feet away from us. Who knew that cookies could be so powerful?!

Note: I linked the recipes above. The pinwheel, sugar, and ginger cookies came from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. The molasses cookies came from the McCormick gingerbread whoopie pie recipe. The buckeye one was a random online recipe.

19 December 2009

Turning the Page

Another finals season has come and gone, and I've survived. I know that my posting habits might make it seem like it was a light one this fall, but it was actually anything but light...a real surprise after such a reasonable semester. I've become so accustomed to preparing for in-class exams, that I had difficulty preparing for two in-class exams while also writing a 20-page take home exam and two final papers. Yesterday, I turned in the last bits, and I'm now "free" until January 11th.

I owe a lot to George for getting me through the last few weeks. If not for him, I would not have eaten, slept, or left my desk. For about two weeks, he did literally everything around the house. Kudos to you, my love. I'm one lucky gal. :-)

And now that all that is over, my mind is firmly in Christmas mode. I'm planning Christmas cookies, a table setting, and, yes, Christmas dinner. If there is one thing law school has done to me, it has made me more appreciative of the opportunities to be domestic and to be creative. Stay tuned for how my holiday plans work (or don't work) out.

13 December 2009

Holiday Party 2009

Last night, the Big G hosted its annual holiday party for the Seattle and Kirkland offices at the Experience Music Project, which is located just below the Space Needle in Seattle Center. Although the timing wasn't ideal (smack dab in the middle of my exams), it did give George and me an excuse to take a little overnight vacation in our own city. I really love Seattle...even when the temperature hasn't gone more than a degree or two over freezing in a week.

Anyway, here's a little look at last night:

Is my husband handsome or what?!

05 December 2009

Final Visit to the Farm

This morning, as I type, the contents of my grandparents' farm are being auctioned in preparation for the farm's closing next week. I've written a previous post or two about my memories of the farm, and now I'm sharing some photos and thoughts from my very last visit to the farm...even now as the auction proceeds.

It was a sunny and bittersweet day in November. Mom and I drove down the lane to a quiet and empty farm, devoid of a dog to announce our presence, cars to tell us who had arrived before us, or a smiling face opening the back door to welcome us in before we'd even stopped the car. Clearly, my last visit to the farm as I knew it had already passed.

It was surprisingly easy to walk through the house for the last time because, while I have so many memories there, it looked nothing like the place of my memories. Much of the furniture was gone. Days and days had been spent emptying 55 years of accumulation onto tables. What remained were knickknacks, dolls, old Christmas trees, pots and pans, and other miscellaneous accumulation that had not been claimed by anyone in the family.

The barn, on the other hand, brought back a load of memories that I'd forgotten I even had. It had been years since I'd been inside the barn. My family has put in a tremendous amount of work sorting through the contents of the barn. In the process, they uncovered things I had completely forgotten about, like the yellow banana seat bike that always stayed at Grandma and Grandpa's. I used to ride it up and down the lane with Rocky, the Golden Retriever, following at my side. Oh, yes - I loved that bike.

Even though I don't remember riding in the sleigh, I remember the sleigh always sitting in the barn waiting to be used. Like the bike, it has seen better days, but aren't the majestic shapes of the sleigh and of its bells beautiful?

Speaking of beautiful, I love to see Grandpa's tack hanging in the barn:

On the top floor of the barn, it was like time stood still. The rope I remember swinging on as a kid is still there. (And I'm still terrified of swinging on it.)

The basketball court, where so many family tournaments were played, looks ready for a game that's never going to be played.

Grandpa's sign (to himself) and a half pile of hay are ready for another round of farm animals.

All too soon, we needed to leave the farm to pick up Grandma and Grandpa for our lunch date, which meant it was time to say one last goodbye. We followed Grandpa's directions to close the door, buckled our seat belts, and drove out the long driveway for the last time.

Of all the times when I have lost tears thinking about the end of our family's time at the farm, this was, surprisingly, not one of those. I didn't cry because, next week, a new family is going to start building its own book of memories at the farm. The neighbor's son has purchased the farm and will be living and farming the land with his family. Soon, a new family will learn that the steep steps into the dining room are perfect for sliding on one's behind or for getting a Slinky to go from the top to the bottom without stopping. Some new kids will carve their initials into the trees beside the aging carvings of "ALK" and "KLM." A new family will appreciate the beauty of watching the sun rise and set from the back porch. Maybe the new family will even plant their first Christmas tree and watch it grow over the years. Yes, our family has had a phenomenal run on the farm, and I feel good about the fact that it is now going to be loved by another family.

I also couldn't cry leaving the farm because we're not losing what really matters: the memories and the people who made it possible. I'm reminded of the Brad Paisley song Two People Fell In Love that talks about generations of happiness and success all because two people fell in love. We're so lucky that we still get to enjoy the company of the two people who fell in love and made our family possible.

04 December 2009

I'm thankful for my health.

It's finals season, which means I'm seeing everything as the glass half empty. For those of you who have to be around me: sorry!

This morning, however, I had a great routine check-up. (Really, this was just routine - don't get excited or concerned.) I've lost about 15 lbs (~8 kg) over the last several months, so my numbers are looking much healthier, and my doctor is pleased that I've incorporated exercise into my life. Having to buy smaller clothes is fun, but I have to admit that the smile on Dr. Pearson's face was almost as rewarding. I've been blessed with many things, and today I am so very thankful for my health.

Now...back to studying federal income tax...