Monday, December 25, 2006

A Christmas of Sadness and Joy

Definitely a Christmas of mixed emotions for us this year. Christmas Eve-afternoon Chris got a call that his grandmother was not well. She's had some rough times lately. His brother called in the afternoon to let him know that his parents had been told to come down to the nursing home to say goodbye. Around 9:30 he got the call that she had passed away.

Very odd celebrating as a family. I imagine even more so for his family in Georgia- seeing gifts under the tree this morning with Grammy's name on them, etc. Her body will be flown up to New Jersey with the viewing on Thursday and the burial on Friday. We knew the time was coming. I just wish it hadn't happened at Christmas. I can't even begin to imagine how hard this time of year will always be for them in the future.

Other than that news, Christmas was nice. It felt a bit rushed to me, since we had to travel from house to house and get Andrew to work, etc, but overall a nice time. Hope all of you had a great day!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wishing you peace...

Yes, it's 4:21 on Christmas Eve, and our stockings have already been filled. Santa stops early at our house. There are four stockings since my mom and Andrew will be over at our house tomorrow.

This second picture is of the Christmas Forest in my craft room.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Funk

So normally I'm really into Christmas- the decorations, making cards, entertaining, etc. This year it all seems like such a chore. Not really sure why. I've just felt like I have so much going on that I haven't had a chance to do half the stuff I want to. Our house has been a complete mess. Been too busy to clean. Started decorating at the beginning of December- brought all the boxes up from the basement, started decorating, and then the boxes have sat around for three weeks. Finally finished getting all the ornaments on the tree this morning. Still need to finish a couple little things.

As to cards, Chris has been an incredible help this year. In the past he has always helped me make the cards, but usually just with mundane things- the cutting, etc. Well last weekend when I was finishing up the cookbooks I asked him if he could work on the cards. I had already cut all the paper to size, so that was a start. I put him to work stamping, coloring, and doing the "snow" technique. And he did that for all of our cards- about 80 or so of them. Yesterday I helped assemble them, but really this year he did all the creative part of them. Way to go Chris. I told some of the gals at work that Chris had been working on the cards so when I gave them their cards yesterday they told me to tell him that he did a great job. And he really did! This morning I gto them into the mail, so people should be getting them on Tuesday or Wednesday. Again, I normally get these out at the beginning of the month. I hate being this late, but life got in the way.

I was out finishing up my shopping today. I was exhausted. I called my mom to ask her what color pants she wanted. (She had previously told me, but I think I threw away the paper with that info.) I sounded really tired and dragged down. She could obviously tell this. She told me to stop and go home. "Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time." Yes Mom, you're right. Luckily I only had one more stop. When I got home I put the groceries away and then read for a little bit and took a two hour nap. Tons of stuff that maybe I "should" have been doing, but I needed that break.

Anyway, I hope that all of you are finding a bit more joy in the season than I am. But now maybe I can relax for a few days. Tomorrow evening we're celebrating with my dad, Liz, and Hanna, and then going to the 11:00 service (our equivalent of a midnight mass) at our church. Andrew, Chris and I will spend the night at my mom's, and then Christmas morning come back to our place to celebrate Christmas. Tuesday Darlene and Steve are coming over for a while (not sure what we'll do with them, maybe board games?) and on Wednesday Tami and I are planning to meet up. Then I'll have either Thursday or Friday off. I have a ton of work to do, so I'll be going in one day next week. And if your'e lucky, tomorrow when there is better light, I'll post some pictures of my Christmas decorations. I have a forest in my craft room. :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Yankee Swap

So yesterday we had the holiday party for my department at work. Overall it was a good time. People seemed to like the food and had fun with the game (I gave people marketing slogans and they needed to name the company/product).

We also had a Yankee Swap. I gave a mug and some hot chocolate. Value was around $18. The suggested value for the swap was $10. I was ok spending more since I wanted to give more than just the hot chocolate which was $10 (the tall container in the picture). There are two diff size mugs and I went with the larger one. I also included a gift receipt, so worst case someone could get whatever they wanted. Overall, I thought it was a good gift.

Well, it's swap time, and the first person to choose picked my gift! She opened it and everyone seemed to like it. I picked 4th (out of 20) and I chose a set of beer glasses. I didn't need them, but there wasn't really anything I wanted to trade it for, so I kept them. I figured I could give them to Andrew, or maybe try to return them. Unfortunately my luck was going to run out. Later in the game, someone opened this and traded for my beer glasses.

Some crappy WWF game. Great. What the hell am I supposed to do with this? I don't think I even know anyone who would want it. I guess that's the nature of a Yankee Swap. You never know what you're going to get. But why would you even buy such crap?

I will say, for the most part the gifts were good. Really only two "bad" gifts- this and an ant farm. But the ant farm is at least somewhat better since there's an office joke around it.

Better luck next year, right?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Introducing the Cookie Baking Cookbook- scrap edition

It took me two weeks, and it is now 2am, but I'm done with the creating phase and on to the printing phase. With a slowish printer and about 10 copies to make, this will take me a while.

The complete album is viewable here.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Productive Evening?

It was a productive evening, just perhaps not on anything I really would have been wanting to work on.

I'm in charge of organizing the holiday party for our department and I had information to convey to them. And someone today asked me if I was going to be getting it out soon-either by email or dropping something off on people's chairs. Basically her way of saying I should do something soon.

And then last Friday we had the baby shower and my boss was impressed with my creativity.

So, I decided to make some invitations for people. Really the only new info for them is about the Yankee Swap, but at least they're kind of fun. And once I got going they were pretty quick. I used a bunch of different papers from the Christmas Stack. My only delay was that in the midst of making these I decided I wanted the Crop-a-dile. I called Ms to see if they had it. Very quickly I was told no. I called ACM. After 4.5 minutes on hold my phone dropped the call. So I decided I might as well drive and see. No luck at ACM, but Ms had 3 in stock. When I was checking out I complained the the check-out girl (in a nice fashion- more informing her than compaining) that I had called and been told no when obviously they had them. I would have told a manager but I wanted to hurry home to work on the invites and I didn't want to have to ask for a manager.

So these are all done- almost 30 of them. I didn't get to anything else like my Cookie Baking cookbook, but that'll be tomorrow's project.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for games to play during the party, let me know!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Things that make you go hmmm….

So a sales person calls up and wants to email me some info. Fine. I give my email address- cbreecher@.... He then addresses me in the email as Kris. If my email starts with a “C” don’t you think my name will also start with a “C”?

I’m also amazed at the number of people who want to make it Cris without the “h”. I’ve seen a few people spell it that way, but the majority don’t.

Guess I don’t have such a simple name after all!

Monday, December 04, 2006

A packaging question...

As I mentioned in my last post, we're planning to give the mom-to-be gift certificates for house cleaning as well as from various restaurants. So how to I wrap/present these in a fun and creative way? The house cleaning GC is in a #10 envelope (the normal long sized ones) and the 3 restaurant gift cards are all normal sized with minimal packaging. However, I also picked up take-out menus that could also be incorporated.

The one idea I had for the restaurant GCs would be to put them in a Chinese take-out box. Any other ideas? How about for the Merry Maids one?

Anyone up for cake?

I made this for a co-worker for her baby shower on Friday. So easy to go crazy buying things to include in it. I kept it pretty simple though since her main gifts will be some GCs for house cleaning and various restaurants. Still need to pick those up later this week!

Very simple to make, and even Chris was pretty impressed with it. I don't think he had ever heard of a diaper cake before though. I just hope the mom-to-be likes it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

As requested...

As requested, here's the picture of my ass that Hanna took.

I posted this in the comments on my previous post, but thought I would also put here for easy reading.

Mel- I LOVE the picture of Hanna in the bathroom mirror. One of my favorites. So glad I didn't let her go back and delete pictures (gave her a second memory card instead) since I imagine she would have deleted that one because she would think it was silly.

I'll have to see if I can share the Hanna pic online. Many years ago Liz didn't want me posting pics of Hanna online, so anything I have posted I've blurred her face. But this is just a really neat picture.

Tami- The cookies are divided up between 3 main groups and then again into some sub-groups. So initially my brother takes some, we take some, and my dad/Liz/Hanna take some. Andrew usually takes only a few. We take some for our works, my mom, Chris' parents, and a few other friends. Plus some for ourselves. We generally give ours out right away, but I think my dad/Liz are planning to give some of theirs away in a couple of weeks. I think they just store them on their porch which is pretty cold this time of year.

And Brit- very odd that the pages got returned to you. I have forwarding set up from my old address, so the pages shoudl have been sent on to my new address. Oh well. I'll get them soon enough.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

We Survived Cookie Baking!

Eight plus hours and 14 recipes later...

I started off by making two recipes last night and then today we made 12 more recipes.

For those of you unfamiliar with the tradition, it's known as "Cookie Baking Weekend" however lately it's just been a day-long event. Participants are Chris and I, my brother Andrew, my dad, his partner Liz, and her daughter Hanna. Each person picks two recipes. I have a hard time picking just two, which is why I made 2 more last night.

This tradition has been going on for umpteen years now- probably since 1999 or so. And in 2002 I started to make an annual cookbook with the recipes from the year as well as pictures of the bakers and the recipes. It's usually been a pretty simple cookbook- designed in PowerPoint. This year, however, I think I want to make a "scrappy" cookbook. However, since I need to make at least 8 copies, I think I'll just make one and then make color copies/scans of it for everyone else.

I was thinking I had to include this picture of Chris, but he just told me I couldn't. And then he told me I couldn't put it here on my blog. Hah! I mentioned I was going to post it to get opinions on if it should be included in the cookbook or not, and he relented to allow me to post it.

I have lots of pictures to choose from this year. However, many of them are not so good. When you don't use the flash and you let an 11-year-old use the camera, many of them turn out blurry. You also get lots of pictures of the cats, the ceiling, my ass, the trashcan, etc.

Stay tuned to see pictures of the actual cookbook!

Oh, and what did we make? Carmelitas, Easy Oreo Truffles, Truffles, Chewy Noels, Gingersnaps, Chocolate Mint Squares, Tree Cookies, Mommy Breecher's Brownies, Pumpkin Cookies, Brownies, Congo Bars, White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies, Forgotten Cookies, and Scrumptious Bars. And for those wondering, 6 of these recipes are included in the cookie recipe swap. (Just waiting on 2 more and they'll get mailed out.)