Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year


This year I will:

- Write more personal notes and mail them
- Miss fewer Saturday Weight Watchers' Meetings
- Plan out every Monday night
- Eat more greens
- Keep a 'while Bridget is on her mission' journal
- Make really cool birthday crowns for my grandchildren
- Learn a few things about photography
- Take my Laurels for manicures
- Love everything about Girls' Camp
- Abstain from all things labeled "Lean Cuisine"
- Master the sugar cookie
- Buy more books for presents

Best wishes to you and yours...

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Miscellaneous (nothing to do with sledding)


Funny notes from the MTC (please note the White Christmas reference):

"There are 'a million handsome guys' and I can't flirt with any of them."

"Dad said he would write me a letter. What's the deal? Tell him he must - just on DearElder - COME ON! Boys (I mean Elders) aren't allowed to call you beautiful, plus they're scared to, so I need dad to."

No segue (I said "miscellaneous"):

These are so good.

Go see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Do it. Somehow they managed to avoid sappy . . . the result was a lovely movie.

And please read this. You won't be sorry, especially when you get to "2009 Goals".

Shouldn't I feel hungry by now?

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sister Lunn at the MTC

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Christmas dinner...


My Christmas dinner did not look like this picture at all. Not one bit. Christmas dinner was at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace, across from the Sports Book (while the Lakers played the Celtics). Seriously. So not this picture.

Still, dinner was heavenly, including things like Tiger Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale with Corn Cilantro Sauce, Pork Chop with Bourbon Ancho Chile Sauce and Sweet Potato Galette . . . and more. I'm still feeling the Christmas food coma symptoms, although today I actually felt a hunger pang and couldn't believe it. Is THAT what that feels like??. Really.

No segue.

The day after Christmas is good for the following:

- half price Christmas cards (helps alleviate the guilt you feel for not mailing them in 2008)
- easy commute (grasping at straws here)
- a deserted Costco

Not our traditional Christmas this year but fitting considering everything that's been going on in our home. Did I mention my MTC-residing daughter invited all her Facebook friends to an Open House at my home? All 355 of them. And still . . . I made it through.

Hope you had a merry.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Merry Christmas...


I am basking in the love that is freely given and it has nothing to do with presents.

Adding to that, this morning I received an email from someone I really love that said this:

"Have you ever felt so happy and full of joy you’re afraid if one more drop comes raining down from heaven and pierces your heart you will explode into….something?! I’m feeling that way today."

This is how I feel right now, too. I hope your Christmas feels the same.

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Ho Ho Ho Tom Colicchio


I'm in a food coma this morning. A Christmas food coma. I finally went to Craftsteak at the MGM . . . been anxious to see what it's all about. I'm a huge Tom Colicchio fan - TOP CHEF, yes. I did not have his famous french fries cooked in duck fat. I DID have the tasting menu.

I'm still in a state of bliss. Can you say Jerusalem artichokes? Lobster bisque?


Sea scallops? Steak?

How about monkey bread, fruit crisp, chocolate lava cake and pistachio brittle?

Over and out. Food coma. Can't speak.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

More on tradition


The Christmas carolers . . . they've stopped by my house. Have they been to yours?

Have you watched White Christmas yet? It's a Wonderful Life? Family Man?

Have you had some peppermint hot chocolate? Have you made cookies? What's your egg nog status?

Elf? A Christmas Story? Christmas in Connecticut? Maybe The Bishop's Wife? Please say yes...

Do you have "Christmas fridge" yet? (Thank you, Caity, for coining that phrase and making my Christmas happy forever for it.)

What fun do you have left to experience?

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Peppermint Stick Hot Fudge Sundae


Last night we had a rather large group of young men and young women at the house for some Christmas inspiration (thank you, Robin). When all was said and done we gathered together for some peppermint stick ice cream with some homemade hot fudge and fresh whipped cream. It'd been years since I made this recipe and I have no idea why. Luscious.

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Are you there, Zach?


Sunday was our Ward Christmas Sacrament Meeting. Usually this meeting is some sort of Christmas "program", if you will. The Ward Choir tends to sing a lot during this program (not that I don't enjoy the choir [good job, honey], I do) . . . but Sunday's meeting was remarkable, at least for me. Several members of our Ward were on the program, the first being a man I don't know very well. He read an excerpt from his father's journal from Christmas Eve, 1943, at a time when he found himself alone in a strange city during the war. My thoughts immediately turned to my son (you, Zach) in Baghdad and I don't mind telling you, I was a puddle. I am thinking quite a bit about what the speaker shared, so today, Zach, I want to tell you . . . when I see a serviceman at the airport (or anywhere, for that matter) I do that thing people have done to you. I am not shy under these circumstances. I walk up to them and I extend my hand. I thank them and let them know I appreciate their service and sacrifice. Because I really really do. So thank you for teaching me how much a small gesture can mean to someone.

Merry Christmas Combat Medic Zachary Lunn. I love you. Be safe.

P.S. Watching White Christmas just isn't the same without you.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baked Shrimp Scampi a la Ina Garten



I love Ina's new cookbook, Back to Basics. The current season of her Food Network show is highlighting recipes from her latest book, and this recipe really appealed to me. Not only is it a version of the standard shrimp scampi, but you can make it ahead and pop it in the oven. Ahem, walk in the door from church and you're eating in 30 minutes. IN your pajamas. Sweet . . .

So this is our 'Sunday before Christmas dinner', which I realize isn't very Christmas-ey . . . but neither was that lawnmower I heard when I woke up yesterday.

Merry Christmas . . .

* 2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
* 3 tablespoons good olive oil
* 2 tablespoons dry white wine (whatever)
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
* 1/4 cup minced shallots
* 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
* 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
* 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1 extra-large egg yolk
* 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
* Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.

In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.

Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Waiting...


Remember? Oh I remember . . . my sister and I so tickled pink to be sleeping with the Christmas candles in the windows. We could see the Christmas lights on neighboring homes and it was fun and festive and exciting. Such a VIVID memory. Now I have palm trees in my front yard and nothing seems the same. But some things are. . .

The memories really don't change. And thank goodness, because they really make me happy.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Eggnog


You need it. It's necessary. It's part of the festivities, no doubt about it. I will drink the kind from the bottle. Even the kind from the carton. But nothing is as good as homemade egg nog. Try it. You'll like it.

Ingredients:

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites*

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream and nutmeg and stir to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.

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Planning the route...


I have but one Christmas errand left to do. Just a simple department store stop and nothing more. Then it's off to Town Square to enjoy the snow and maybe a movie. And some hot chocolate with peppermint . . .

I really love the weekend before Christmas. What are your plans

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

White Christmas fix...


Salt Lake City was pretty. Temple Square and Provo, pretty. Cedar City was blizzard scary, and that gorge . . . I'm still white knuckled. Still, we made it home last night only to find a blanket of white snow that made Las Vegas a top CNN news story. I had my fix and now it feels even more like Christmas.

We made our deposit at the Missionary Training Center and filed the day's memories in that folder we love to take out and read. The label reads "BEST EVER DAYS". This is what genuine happiness feels like.

Merry Christmas. This week before the holiday is the most fun week . . .

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

let's be real...


I don't want to be something I'm not here. So, in thinking about this and how perfect my tree appears to me (don't look at the topper), I thought it only fair to tell you. It was hell. HELL.

Last large tree ever . . . so take it in.

Fa la la la la.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not what you think...


You probably thought I was going to talk about how much I love Christmas and candy canes, huh? Nope. I really dislike candy canes. Actually, they make me feel sick.

Other Christmas traditions that aren't in my "love it" category . . . fruitcake. Know anyone who DOES like fruitcake. Wait. I know people...sick.

Others? How about office parties? That's a tradition I don't like. Don't even get me started.

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Things that just scream Christmas...


Doesn't this look so fun? Frog Pond, Boston Common. Home to the Swan Boats from Make Way for Ducklings (if you didn't know).

So the ice skating...

Know how old I am? When I was a kid the fire department would actually come to your home and "flood" your backyard to make a skating rink. A little lumber and a tarp, a few other things, you were skating.

Now, truth be told, I never could ice skate. Not even close. But doesn't this picture just exude holiday fun? Doesn't it just make you want to go out and put on ice skates and have hot cocoa and sing Christmas carols? Or maybe find a toboggan and go sledding? Decorate your house? Caroling? Make cookies?

Say yes.

By the way, I can't go ice skating. Or sledding or tobogganing. I live in the middle of the desert. What was I going to say, "Wouldn't it be so Christmas-y to go to the Bellagio fountains show? The strip? Forum Shops?

Not.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

My Christmas Card


Let's pretend this Norman Rockwell is a picture on my Christmas card. The one I would mail to you this week if I wasn't slammed with "stuff". Also, you should know this is the Christmas goodie I was dropping by your house is in this cute bakery box, tied up with this bakery twine with a Tiny Prints label that reads "Merry Christmas from the Lunns".

Forgive me.

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Binoculars for Christmas?


This essay reminded me . . . how great would it be if we had daily access to binoculars? Ones that helped us mesh others' images of a person with our own? There's a Seminary video that takes it a step further. How would it BE if we could see everyone the way He does?

I love Segullah. And Christmas. I love Christmas, too.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holly Ball (sometimes called Kissing Ball)


The Christmas tradition of the holiday "holly ball" or "kissing ball" was one my mother embraced fully. Each year that holly ball had a particular spot in our home. It was made of fresh greens, duh, usually holly, and in later years was replaced with a fake replica. When I stumble upon a holly ball I sigh a little inside . . . I want one. I have the perfect place for one. Haven't ever done it. This is my year.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My perfectly shaped Christmas tree...


When I was a kid we went to one of the many Christmas tree lots in the city to choose our yearly tree. Think A Christmas Story. Swear. Inevitably it was the coldest night in December and three out of the four of us (love ya, Dad) were very particular about that tree. No bare spots, perfectly shaped and extra fresh. Again, a happy holiday memory for lots of reasons, including that Christmas music on the AM car radio. Go Bing.

Fast forward. Like 45 years fast forward.

Tonight I will drive down a major cross street to Star Nursery and choose my Christmas tree. My iTrip will play the music I choose and I will probably go through the Starbucks drive-thru and order some nonfat steamed milk with vanilla so I can, you know, pretend. The standard for that tree is still the same, no bare spots, perfectly shaped and extra fresh. But there's no snow. No cold. And this tree will be delivered curbside, which I guess is better than that year I had L.L. Bean ship me my Christmas tree. Make no mistake, though, I still love this chore.

No segue: Did you know it's against the law in Nevada to tie a Christmas tree to the roof of your husband's car? No? It isn't? I need clarification.

I like to remember Christmas in the 1960's. It's just like the pictures.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday remembering and things I forgot...


This year I forgot to hand out those Trader Joe's Advent Calendars I bought (a month ago) for my grandchildren. You know, the kind that have chocolates behind each door and window? Those Advent Calendars bring back happy (childhood) holiday memories . . . which remains a bit of a mystery to me since my sister and I had to share, a concept I sometimes think is more difficult when there are just two siblings. Just a theory. If it happened to be her night to open the window or door it wasn't my night. The true bottom line here is, well, we took nightly turns during Advent at being unhappy. STILL, it's somehow a happy memory, and sharing that brings some vicarious holiday pleasure.

I forgot to make the caramel brownies, although I managed to assign someone the task of unwrapping those caramels and making a special trip to the grocery store on Wednesday night for a forgotten ingredient. Go figure.

I forgot the sweet potatoes in the garage refrigerator, all ready to be baked in their brown sugar, pecan crusty goodness, probably because it was the first time I've ever served sweet potatoes.

I forgot an entire dessert in the same garage refrigerator. We never missed it.

I forgot my new oven has a warming tray. S.M.A.R.T.

I forgot to keep my camera handy, huge disappointment because the thankful balloon launch would have been extra appropriate for a post-holiday blog post. Although audio probably would have been better . . . especially at the "kids' table" when they just sat down for dinner and said "I'm not hungry." That might have been my favorite part of the day.

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Post Holiday Observations/Pre Holiday Lists


The leftovers have been eaten, floors have been washed, rugs repositioned and evidence of little hands erased from windows and stainless steel. Sunday I sat behind the wheel of my car and realized I hadn't driven since Wednesday . . . unprecedented and lovely, that break from the world.

Moving on, the Christmas shopping is done and wrapped and holiday movies await. Simple decorating with fresh greens is the plan this year and I'm looking forward to that holiday smell that I love so much. That would be those Christmas greens AND the cookies.

Then there's that little matter of Bridie's "Open House". Anyone know a caterer? No, really.

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