Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday tradition

Last weekend we had our annual Holiday Open House. We started hosting an open house the year we became homeowners. This year was our 13th annual holiday party.

So, you’d think I would have prep down to a well-organized science. Or at least an art.

Instead, the night before the big event, the living room looked like this:

And, I had done not a bit of cooking. In fact, grocery shopping had not even taken place until I left work the night before the party.

Nothin’ like leaving EVERYTHING to the last minute. Well, not everything. The tree was up and the kids had decorated it.

Not a big deal if we were expecting a few folks over for hot chocolate and cookies.

But we were expecting over 40 people and the menu was as follows: Pineapple Nutty Cheese Ball, Pesto Provolone Terrine, Veggies and Dip, Brown Sugar Smokies, Savory Herb Shortbread, Nutty Gorgonzola Roasted Potato Slices, Asiago Dip, Brie Cherry Pastry Cups, Miniature Cheesecakes, Brownies, Russian Tea Cakes, Cherry Almond Cookies and Cranberry Bars.

Luckily, there’s nothing like a little Wild-Eyed and Stressed-Out Mom to spur the family into action. My daughter was a huge help in the cooking department and my boys (both the kid I gave birth to and the one we’re borrowing from Germany this year) and husband helped with cleaning and decorating. Our first guests were early and I even put them to work!

After the last-minute hustle, everything turned out great. The food was (as always) fabulous and the house looked great:

After Decorating

May you take part in many wonderful, stress-free, holiday traditions this year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Now THESE are Christmas lights

Co-worker sent the following in an e-mail:

I forwarded (of course) to my family:

Me: We SO need to do this next year.

Stepmom: Absolutely!!! You first.

Hubby: Don’t like our neighbors? And what do you mean we? I don’t remember seeing you up on that ladder this year.

Me: Well, naturally, in this case the "we" means "you." You know that!

Son: Dad, want me to get the ladder out? If we start now we might be done by next year!

For more information on the above light display, you can check out the owner’s website: Holdman Christmas Lights

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Scrooge is alive and well

My daughter was downtown during the lunch hour today, so I suggested that we grab a bite to eat together (she leaves for Navy boot camp in three weeks – gulp! – and I’m taking every opportunity to spend time together while trying not to be tooooo clingy). We headed over to the Old Spaghetti Factory and ordered up our favorites.

I noticed that a couple of crotchety women seated nearby seemed to be unhappy with our mutual waitress. They had her send the manager to their table where they harangued him for quite some time. Seems the restaurant ran out of the cheese and broccoli specialty soup for the day and they couldn’t get any refills after they’d finished their first bowl.

This was cause not only to give the waitress a hard time (“Can’t they make anything besides minestrone?”), but they apparently felt it warranted letting the manager know not only how unhappy they were with the waitress’s apparently inability to wiggle her nose all Bewitched-like and produce the desired soup, but also how they received much better service and more food at various restaurants around town.

Seriously. For at least 15 minutes. Reinforced my fervent desire never to have a customer-service related job ever again.

My daughter and I were plenty happy with our very attentive waitress, so I asked her to send the manager to our table when he was done with the crabby gals.

We told him the waitress was fabulous, the food was wonderful and we loved his restaurant.

Then we left a $10.00 tip for an $18.00 check.

Heck, we knew the gal was going to get stiffed by at least one table!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the lookout for winged pigs ...

Our local Costco is selling gas for $1.46 per gallon (here's where you can find the lowest gas price in your area). I truly NEVER expected to see gas for less than $2.00 per gallon again, so I am now keeping a close eye out for flying pigs. 'Cause you know those will be coming next.

And, just to get you in the holiday mood, one of my favorite You Tube videos ever:

A lovely dog who, sadly, passed away in a house fire. At least his owners will always have this joyous video to remember him with.

Monday, December 1, 2008

You never know

Holy cow! Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that there were Christmas trees being serenaded by carols in the stores and it was not yet Halloween and now those things are actually seasonally appropriate.

Remember when it seemed like it took F O R E V E R for Christmas to arrive?

Now? Not so much.

We took part in our communities’ annual Rake Up Boise – an event that we’ve participated in since our daughter was in middle school. We’ve raked with a middle school team, a Mensa team, a Civil Air Patrol team, an AFS team and a team from my office. Some years we’ve gone out with more than one team if they were raking on different days. This year’s team was from the office and I was the coordinator. Counting kids, we had 55 participants. And we raked up about 150 bags of leaves.

When you have a big group like that, it goes very quickly! And is accompanied by much frivolity. We’ve been known to rake not only the yards assigned to us (4 this year), but sometimes the neighboring yards. Since one of our houses had a neighboring yard FULL of leaves, we decided to rake them up as well so that they wouldn’t get blown into the yard we had just cleaned up. Sometimes when we do that, we have a lot of fun with the reactions of the occupants of the “extra” house (since they’re not expecting a huge group of people to attack their leaves). This year, we had a more sobering experience. In the words of one of our rakers from an e-mail she sent to the office the Monday after we raked:

As those of you who were there may recall, after we finished our four "assigned" houses we decided to do an additional house, almost as an after-thought. As I was helping rake up the leaves, I noticed an elderly gentleman walk out of this house and he looked perplexed, but also sad. He walked over to my boyfriend and spoke to him for a long while. Afterwards, [BF] walked up to me and shared their conversation.

The man asked [BF] what was going on, who were we? After [BF] explained that we were all from [lawfirm] (and/or friends and family members) and we were participating in Rake Up Boise as a community event the man asked if he could pay us. [BF] reassured him that no, we wouldn’t accept anything from the man and just wanted to help out people like him for Rake Up Boise. At that point, the man got teary eyed and told [BF] that our timing was amazing because at 3 am last night his daughter-in-law passed away and his family was going to be showing up at his home later than morning. So, he really appreciated our help and couldn't believe the timing. Later, the man and his wife left the house and stopped to talk to a group and reiterated his sincere thanks. Again, he was teary eyed in giving his heart-felt thanks. Looks like we happened to be in the right place at the right time.

I just wanted to share this with all of you . . . You never know how much a kind gesture means to its recipient until something like this happens.

You really do never know.