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Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas in Atlanta

Being away from (immediate) family during Christmas time was rough--I won't lie, sugar coat, or give you a perfect picture--but prayers were answered and Christmas day was wonderful. David did a great time cheering me up and reminding me that the cloud over my heart was simply missing my family and all of their traditions. I realized a few things about myself: a) Traditions help me feel Christmasy. b) focusing on Christ is what it is all about, and by doing so my heart is lifted c) I want to GIVE more d) without traditional Christmas food or at least good food, my life is dismal and e) receiving packages and letters makes me as happy as a 4 year old on Christmas. Behold my Christmas card wall (fridge).

Aunt Barbara and Uncle Herald also helped kindle my Christmas spirit (although I doubt they knew it at the time). They are truly an amazing blessing to David and I. My life is changed because of them. They took us to see How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Fox Theater. For you Utah people--it is the equivalent of Capitol Theater. It was a funny musical and the Grinch did a great job both mimicking Jim Carry as well as using his own interpretations. The Fox is only 3 blocks away from our apartment.

They also took us to see The Forgotten Carols, which was great, by the way. Aunt Barbara also came to one of my performances which truly touched my soul! My parents never missed a performance, if they could help it. To me, that was a way they told me they loved me. Aunt Barbara doing the same made me feel so happy and grateful for her. Not only that, but she allowed me to make and bring two REQUIRED dishes I MUST eat (according to my unrealistic expectations...) during the holidays to Christmas dinner: Pecan pie and Sweet potatoes. See the next post. Our Christmas dinner was amazing. Prime rib cooked in a Green Egg? Yes please. 

David and I also went to see a movie (The Muppets) on Christmas Eve per tradition. It was down right hilarious. We haven't been to a movie theater since Last Christmas Eve when we saw Tangled with my family. It felt really special. Realization f) It feels like Christmas when you do things and eat things as a family that are not typical. 

For example, David gave me an early Christmas present of a block of Gruyere cheese! He knows I simply adore grilled cheese sandwiches made with Gruyere and so he surprised me one afternoon close to Christmas with a sandwich! He is definitely a good husband, girls. Do I hear a song in the background? The one sung in Enchanted..."That's how you know...he loves you!" 

I told him to take pictures

Decorations at my apartment felt a bit lack luster compared my memories of home. One, I know was because there was no place to put anything. Having a mantle is on my wish list. But I am slowly building my stockpile. :) 

On top of our tree is a cookie cutter. We didn't have anything else... I smile because my parents did the same thing except my dad made a card board star and covered it in tin foil on their first Christmas. It tops their tree to this day. :) 

And this year we got some more beautiful decorations by David's Mom and my Mom and Dad. 

I LOVE Willow Tree. Last year we got Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus and this year we received a shepherd and a sheep. 

On top of our mantle for many years has been Swedish Christmas Elves. I took mine when I got married and this year we have a new elf to welcome into the family. (The big guy on the left)

So, looking back, Christmas was wonderful this year. Christmas Day truly was Merry and Bright, made all the better because it fell on a Sunday. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas cards

I only had the time, energy, (and paper) to make Christmas cards for my very immediate family. But to you all who are reading this blog, just know that I made a spirit card just for you. :)

They took awhile, but it was really fun having something to do and show my love for my family. I'm not a scrapbooker, but it certainly is a fun, albeit expensive hobby.

Love you! Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Fiasco

This is the story of a pumpkin pie whose short life was tragic indeed. It started out with the filling, for this pumpkin pie was going to be special. It was no ordinary pie, but a chiffon pumpkin pie, and one that used gelatin to set up. My Grandma Woodfield makes this pie EVERY year for Thanksgiving and when I was asked to bring a pumpkin pie I knew just the one to make to bring a bit of home to the table.

Tragedy #1: It pumpkin mixture wouldn't get thick. I started freaking out. Big time.

Tragedy #2: The delicious butter pie crust was ruined. See the following story: It all started when I was trying lift the foil carrying the pie weights (all I had was rice) out of the pie.

Yes, the foil ripped and the rice came cascading onto the floor, stove, and, yes, pie crust. Freaking out again. BIG time. Calmed myself down enough to think logically enough that the quickest way to get rid of rice out of the pie crust is to pour the rice OUT of the pie crust. Well, it turned out that such thinking was not quite logical because not only did the rice come out of the pie crust, but the pie crust came out of the pan. Sigh. Yes, you read that right. Sorry, no picture. Cue tears. 

Tragedy #3: It was 10:00 at night. 

David, the dragon slayer that he is tried his best to mend the situation. I'm reminded of my dad when I was 6 or so during halloween.  Some stupid teenager knocked my perfect carved pumpkin off of the railing creating mashed pumpkin.  My dad the hero picked up the pieces and glued them back together for me. Or toothpicked them back together... but through my 6 year old eyes everything was better and my pumpkin was resurrected. 

HOWEVER, putting the pie crust back together only somewhat calmed my soul. I think it had something to do with the fact that I was a not so innocent 24 year old. But, it helped get me off the floor. :) * 

David picked up the pie crust and put it back in the pan. What an embarrassing sight. I made that? I wanted to disown the crust. It's really misshapen, and dare I say it...UGLY. On a happy note most of the rice is gone. As David carefully tried to spoon the rice out of the crust I pessimistically pointed out that there was rice on the bottom of the pan. 

Alas. It can not be salvaged. 

Tragedy #4: It is 10:30. 

What is a poor distressed husband to do? Go to the grocery store and pick up a pie crust mix. He is a wonderful dragon slayer, if you ask me. I dried my tears, made the crust, put it in the oven while following the directions EXACTLY and low and behold Tragedy #5: 

It would have been funny if I wasn't devastated. 

Tragedy #6: My pumpkin pie filling was now COMPLETELY SET and the crust still had to cool. 

But despite all 6 tragedies, I suppose it all worked out and my pie still looked beautiful, if not unconventional. 

Those are leaves, not fish. 

End of story. 

*Have you ever seen Julie and Julia when Julie sits and cries on the floor after flipping the tressed chicken onto the floor spilling the stuffing? Picture that... I LOVE that movie. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beautiful Homes in Midtown

These homes are more than charming. With just one look at these homes my imagination starts to churn. I still can't believe that they are within the city. Whenever I think of city homes, I certainly don't think of mansions set on a hill. 

Notice the massive apartment building next to it?

I especially love this one. The white house with dark shutters always gets to me. Especially with a well-manicured lawn. 

I love the South. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Church buildings around Atlanta

In my opinion, one of the most endearing parts of living in Atlanta is the abundance of OLD church buildings. Granted, I am sure this is the case all around the Bible Belt, but it's kind of cool to see so many architecturally interesting buildings smack dab in the middle of the city. 

I do believe this is a Catholic cathedral. Huge building. I hope the hold Christmas Mass. That would be a cool thing to go to. 

And last, but not least the "First Church of Christ Scientist" 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

I used to make lists of all the food I wanted to eat at Thanksgiving. Even at age 8 I loved planning and preparing for the big day. They usually got rather ridiculous such as including rice, corn, turkey AND ham, and FOUR different flavors of ice cream. I LOVE planning and making lists. It just feels so cozy! I can't wait to host Thanksgiving dinner sometime. No wonder I love hosting parties! Cooking as a family in the kitchen is probably my favorite part about Thanksgiving. 

It was my first year without my family for Thanksgiving. (I take that back, I went to Pearl Harbor with my HS band during Thanksgiving in 2001.) Knowing me and my desire for comfort food and tradition I mentally prepared myself for change. I knew this Thanksgiving was going to be different than the past 23, and I hoped I wouldn't leave  feeling a tad sad. Yes, some Woodfield traditions did not happen (there was no pecan pie!), but others I really liked, like the over the top turkey, having Martinelli's instead of water (why don't we do that, mom?), and non-traditional pie. Thanksgiving in Atlanta turned out great. Thank you to the Carlson's for inviting us over! (They are my Great Aunt and Uncle...but they are only a few years older than my parents.) My contribution to the meal was pumpkin chiffon pie and spiced cranberry sauce.

The table. 

I LOVE how they bought a pre-brined turkey from a butcher. Totally worth it. That turkey was so yummy, moist, and flavorful. 

I'm a white meat kind of gal. We also had: 

Ever wondered what to do with the left over stuffing that didn't fit in the bird? Aunt Barbara cooked four turkey thighs on top of the left over stuffing so it would taste like it had been cooking in the turkey for hours! Brilliant. 

Cornbread stuffing

More stuffing and green beans

Crookneck squash casserole. 

7-up salad

Sweet potatoes baked in orange juice

Orange rolls. So yummy!

Mashed potatoes. These may look plain, but in fact there is butter, cream, sour cream, and ginger in it. I'm totally adding ginger to my mashed potatoes from no on. 

And of course the homemade spiced cranberry sauce and gravy. 

For dessert we had cherry berry pie, pumpkin chiffon pie, and key lime pie. Their cherry berry pie was really great and lived up the hype. Don't forget the ice cream and whip cream!

Oh, and it was a niece's and grandpa's birthday, hers on Thanksgiving and his two days before so we had the traditional ice cream cake in addition to the pies. They didn't have any candles so they improvised. I'm a fan. :)

Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!