Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Cold

Today is a WONDERFUL day. This year the Ritters are staying home for Christmas. We have been anticipating today for months. So yesterday we were disappointed when Dana started fighting a cold. It isn't just a little sniff-and-cough cold, but a big ol' knock-you-on-your-can cold. With a turkey and fixings in the refrigerator Dana wasn't going to be undone.
Add to the cold a pressure sore on my end that requires extra help from Dana (and extra worry too) and we weren't too happy with how Christmas was shaping up. Neither of us handles disappointment very well. Getting through a rough morning, we enjoyed Dana's breakfast casserole (which we'll be enjoying the next several days) and read the Christmas story from Luke 2.
We then OPENED OUR GIFTS! We each had a stocking and something beside the tree (Note: with a curious puggle, presents go on the table beside, not under the tree). It was great having our surprises from each other (along with the practical things we knew were coming). The big relief was: nowhere to be.
Not to be bested by a cold --even a big ol' one-- Dana went to fixing that Christmas dinner she has been planning. She is coughing and wo' out, but she is pushing through it. Still at it at nearly five o'clock and coughing along, Dana has the house smelling wonderful --yet again-- and even brought be some of her homemade bread from Thursday's cook-fest.
Somebody gets a really good massage and long, relaxing shower tonight and hopefully a restful night sleep.
Thank you for making this a Very Merry Christmas Sweet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

December is a Flash! (Our Life Lately)

My apologies for not keeping up with the blog that well this month! December is always such a flash! I love this season, all of the fun and food and parties and celebrations are so great! But being so busy, the month does seem to go by in like one blink, doesn't it?

Here's a glimpse of what life has been like for us around here for the last couple of weeks...
It snowed. A tad.
I started driving to work. Because being terribly cold is just not for me, I have decided.
President Obama got pretty much everything he wanted for Christmas. Holy "lame duck" session! Work was CRAZY busy.
Late nights are tough for the work/home life balance, but wow is the White House beautiful at night!
There has been a little more of this around here than usual.
We got a package full of Christmas gifts from my Mama!
There was something for all of us.
First, Michael...
Then me :)
I know you've thoroughly enjoyed viewing me opening Christmas presents wearing my long johns. Very Cat Woman, right?

Now, the pets...
Katy got her prize first. For a nanosecond. Then she ran away faster than I could even get a picture.
Then Brokaw. Who opened his present himself. And may have enjoyed the plastic it was wrapped in as much as the tennis balls themselves.
Princess got one, too.
But, she didn't really care. She was off in her own little world, being content, as usual.
So... someone else got her prize. (and Katy's too...)
And, on this particular night we ate Chipotle.
May I also mention that we are both "expanding?" For M, this is a good thing. I consider it an accomplishment that he has some meat on his bones. My bones, however, were already quite meaty.... Oh well.
It snowed, again. This time a little more. Thankful for 4WD!
And there I go driving in it... taking pictures... I know, I'm awful.
One day, when I was in a particularly foul mood, there was a little party in the lobby of my office and there was a chocolate fountain. Turned my frown upside down! (Did I mention, I'm "expanding?"
Somebody was looking particularly handsome at church one Sunday morning, in his new scarf.
I baked some honey oatmeal rolls for our ministry teams Christmas Party. And I *tried* to make a red velvet pound cake in a bundt cake pan but ended up taking this instead....
We call this Red Velvet Cream Cheese Crumble. Sounds legit, right? Yeah.... well.... a little background for you.... Apparently I have much to learn in the how-to-grease-and-flour-a-bundt-cake-pan routine. Half of my cake came out. The other half didn't. I was a pouty mess! Because clearly this was my husband's fault because he happened to be "standing" there watching me during my moment of baking failure! I was just going to throw it way. M said, "Make it a crumble cake!" I was like, "is that even a thing?" Ugh. Pout. Pout. Stomp. Stomp. Then, I decided to give it a shot. I crumbled it all up, smashed it down in a casserole dish, made some cream cheese icing, sprinkled some more crumbles on top and some pecans and sold it as "Red Velvet Cream Cheese Crumble." It was a hit! Score 1 for Michael. I want to remember this because it's a great 'our marriage' kind of story. So typical, it's not perfect so I don't want it and he's all making something beautiful and useful out of nothing. Grr and :) all at the same time.
I spent an entire day this week doing absolutely nothing other than looking up recipes on the internet, reading Real Simple and snuggling with Brokaw. And opening a certain package that came in the mail with MY KINDLE in it!!! Thank you Mommy Claus!!!! :)
Today, I ran out to Trader Joe's for fresh flowers for our Christmas table.
Where, tomorrow, we will be having Roasted Turkey, Herb Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, Collard Greens and Cider Glazed Carrots for dinner. Oh, and Yeast Rolls, of course. And maybe Macaroni and Cheese, maybe.

Note, there are no bundt pans involved!
Dessert is Carrot Cake I bought from Wegmans!

There, that's the last two weeks or so, in pictures.
Wait! There's one more!
As I was sitting here writing this, a certain someone came in here and took my stocking and brought it back, filled up. :)

I'm *really* looking forward to tomorrow! Our 'Just Us' Christmas is already perfect.
Merry Christmas, Y'all!

Homemade Christmas Gifts

This is my third Christmas not really being able to afford Christmas presents for everyone. Two years ago, every dollar I made went toward paying for our wedding. Then last year, we were still recovering from the wedding, plus adjusting to our new life together and money was so tight, we didn't really do gifts for our families at all. That made me really sad. :( Not that I like to go all out, but giving gifts is fun!

This year, I found a happy medium! Homemade Christmas gifts! And, I don't think they're cheesy at all. I would love to get a package like this in the mail!

I've been sending baked goods for a few years, but this year, it's to a whole new level!

I saw this idea in a Paula Deen magazine. Jar mixes! I measured out the ingredients for a few different foods and portioned them into mason jars. I printed labels. It was fun! And easy.
My idea was to send a jar mix, some cookies and some freshly baked bread to our family members.
I actually started the process weeks ago, baking. Then I got sick. I don't think anyone would appreciate germ-ridden baked goods, so that was that. The next weekend, I tried again, baking cookies and magic bars...
Then... my oven broke!! Seriously. It stopped heating. So again, my attempt at mass amounts of baking failed. So, the jar mixes just sat and waited for the other stuff.
It was at this point that I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not going to be able to get this stuff to peoples' houses by Christmas Day. Oh well. I tried. There was no way I was going to be able to get 12 Priority Mail boxes home anyway. Post Offices are only open when I'm at work. And I did not see myself trying to carry 12 boxes home on the Metro.

So, the mass baking had to wait until yesterday. That's when I caught up!! I made 12 LOAVES OF BREAD yesterday! Honey Whole Wheat, Pumpkin, Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl, Cinnamon Oatmeal, Blueberry Oatmeal, Braided Cheddar Bread, Banana Nut bread and gosh, I can't even remember what else... but it definitely looked like bake sale headquarters up in here! I get almost all my bread recipes from The Frugal Girl. Yum.

After 8 loaves, I ran out of eggs so I made an emergency run across the street to Target. In my PJ pants. I realized upon arrival that I was at Target, wearing flannel pants with Christmas trees on them and it was like 6:30pm. I prayed I wouldn't see anyone I know. Which is a real problem since we moved, we see people from church all the time there! God heard my prayer.
I came back home and finished up baking. Michael and I tag teamed. He did all the click-and-ship stuff on the Postal Service website. I'm super glad he did because that kind of administrative stuff drives me nuts. I have no patience. He printed the labels too, yeah!
I wrapped the breads in ribbon and labels like I did the jar mixes. So cute, right? I'm sorry but I am proud! :)
At about midnight, we were DONE!
Carl, our mail man, came and took all these boxes away today. So family, sorry you have to wait, but I promise it will be worth it!


I do not relax well. I try, but it takes me a long time to unwind. I'm constantly think of this or that that needs to be done. Which is terribly dangerous, right? Because something is always undone or is still in the process of being done.

This week, I only worked Monday and Tuesday. That means now it's Friday and I've been wearing a series of PJ pants for three days straight. My house is clean. My car has gas in it. My fridge and freezer are well stocked. Christmas packages have been mailed. A quick trip today for champagne and fresh flowers, and I am D-O-N-E!

Now, I can relax!
Actually, these past three days have been very relaxing. I even fell asleep on the couch once! I haven't taken a real nap in like a year! It just doesn't happen for me.

But, days and days in PJ pants and three documentaries later. Aaaahhhh. I'm not stressed anymore.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Still Can't Believe This Really Happened...

I just got this picture in my email, and I promised to share it when I got it, so here you go! Our picture with the President and the First Lady from the White House Christmas Party!

When I got the email and I was waiting for the picture to load, I was saying to myself, "please don't look fat, please don't look fat." And it's not bad! So, I'm a happy girl!

Sorry I haven't blogged in like 47 days. I've been super busy! Maybe there will be time for blogging later.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Saturday Morning Post

It's 8:54am. I told Michael I would get him up at 9:00am. But, I'm not ready. I so enjoy this time! This morning isn't as pleasant as usual, because my coffee was re-heated. Not the same, I tell you, but it does the job. Brokaw is snuggled at my feet, which is good because it's a tad cold in here. I did have a piece of the chocolate pistachio biscotti I made last week. My first biscotti! It was wonderful, and I'm finding myself wishing now I hadn't given so much of it away! :)

I have a very random mixture of candles burning, and it's actually kind of nice! Christmas cookie, Harvest, some sort of glade red peppermint candle and a tea light that I think is supposed to be some sort of "beach" scent.

Truth: It snowed here this week and neither one of these dogs will "go to the bathroom" outside. So, yeah. Whatever candle I could find, I'm burning, because, ICK. No thank you on that smell. Thank god we have linoleum floors so it's easy to clean up.

Sorry... chocolate pistachio biscotti to that... definitely not a good thing.

We went to the movies last night to see "Morning Glory." I've been dying to see it because it's about a TV producer, and I had like 5 different people tell me it was about me. It really was! Parts of it made me want to cry. Because she's so obsessed with her work, she almost misses out on real life. That's totally me. I'm so thankful I got married when I did. To who I married. Otherwise, I think I could very well be a 30 something working at 30 Rock in NYC on the Today Show or something. Then, soon after, I'd be a 40 or 50 something, wondering what happened to my life.

There are still parts of me that ache for that "network news" dream. But, mostly, I'm thankful for God's direction and provision that led me to where I am now. I think right now I have the perfect blend. A history-witnessing day job covering the President for an organization that truly puts family and people first. And an evening job of wife to the most supportive, cutest guy I've ever known. It is good. It's allowed me to pursue my appetite for covering power and politics in Washington. And find my groove in the kitchen and as a bit of a homemaker. And to share my life, my love with my partner. It's just enough of each.

I need to remember that on the days where I just get overwhelmed by our crazy life.

What a year this has been! I'm starting to feel a bit reflective over the last year. That's kind of odd for me, because I don't tend to look back much. Maybe it's because I'm getting older. Maybe it's because I live with someone who is quite reflective by nature. Not sure. But it's not a bad thing.

Okay, it's 9:03am now. Starting to feel guilty. I should go get M up and ready for the day now. The windows I currently have open: a cranberry bliss bars recipe (been meaning to try those for weeks now....), Etsy, a Google search on "how to can food in jars"(this may be a New Year's resolution) and the New York Times... can wait.

There's a lot to do around here. Taking care of M, cleaning this apartment, getting a massage, baking something for our ministry party tomorrow.. not to mention the several blog posts I want to do from things that happened this week...

Do you like how I list "get a massage" right there with "clean the apartment?" What is wrong with me???? This is going to be AMAZING!! I can't wait. So thankful for the opportunity.

For real now... 9:06am. I'm getting off of here. One more side note: WETA classical music on a Saturday morning is nice.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dinner with Friends

Saturday was a good night. Our friends Jessi and Brendan came over for dinner. This is seriously one of our favorite past times. Please, for real, feel free to invite yourselves over for dinner. I love to cook. I love to have people to fill the 8 chairs we have for our dining room table. I stink, however, at actually inviting people over. So, do it. We'll have good food, and a good time. I promise!

I made a pot roast and vegetables. Steamed some green beans in bacon grease. Uncle Ben made some wild rice.
Jessi made a beautiful apple pie, from scratch.
I also made some homemade honey oatmeal yeast rolls.
Dinner was supurb.
Time for dessert. Jessi didn't want to slice the pie...
So, naturally, Brendan had to do it.
It was also, delicious.
The pets enjoyed the company and were delightfully worn out.
Michael made Brendan some hot tea.
And Jessi checked out our fancy bed. Haha.
Such a wonderful evening. Want to be next? Now accepting reservations!