Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Christmas Time in the... er... city?

Anyone who has ever been to this lovely little spot knows it is a pretty big stretch to call it a city. The fact that I address our utility bills to the "City of" and not some monopolizing power company is proof enough that this is a still a small town. So, it's Christmastime in our small town.

I've been a horrible blogger lately. I get kind of annoyed when people blog about how bad they are at blogging, and yet here I am-- similar to yelling at your kids while you're on the phone with someone, or not returning e-mails, or telling people that you're going to cry/try not to take too long/just read from your paper when you're giving a talk in church-- all things I don't like, yet find myself doing again and again. Anyway, I've kind of been waiting for things to slow down a bit to catch up on everything I've been neglecting, but I suddenly realized that this is my life and it isn't showing any signs of slowing down any time soon. So, I have to prioritize. I do love to read your blogs and e-mails, and I love knowing what is going on in your life. I realize that I need to reciprocate my part in our communication, so I'm really going to try to keep my end of the bargain. I can't promise daily posts at this point, but I can promise that I'll make a regular effort to keep in touch.

Plus, let's be honest here-- I'm just vain enough to enjoy reading my own writing. Hee.

Anyway, back to the update: Chris is still in SLC tonight, working out the details for our van purchase. If only buying a new car was like buying a sweater: you go to the store, pick out the one you like, try it on, go through the checkout, and voila, you've got yourself a new sweater. Unfortunately, it's a much longer and more drawn out process, so hopefully tomorrow will bring home a hubby and a car that seats lots of people.

It's a pretty even mixture of excitement and trepidation that I'm feeling when I think about becoming a mini-van mom. Owning a mini-van breaks yet another promise I made to myself as a teenager (yes, there are more, don't get me going-- I should have just shut my mouth from age 15-18) and makes me officially uncool. But, I'm accepting my uncoolness, as I suspect it has actually been around for quite some time, and I'm working on embracing, rather than unhappily surrendering to my soccer mom status. We did look at SUVs, but the constant request for a friend to come home from school with Thomas and the constant "He's touching me!" in the back seat ruled out a 5 passenger vehicle, and neither Chris nor I could really get excited about having little boy footprints on the middle seat of our car when they jumped to the back of a three-row SUV. Plus, they're quite a bit more expensive to buy, insure and maintain, and we're nothing if not practical. So, there you have it. And hopefully the thing has enough traction and weight that Jen won't have to push me out of a snowbank! :)

Back to Christmastime-- it's in full swing around here! YAY! Thomas is out of school and we've already had some Christmas guests. And of course, I've taken every opportunity to make and eat those goodies that we only make this time of year. Mmm.

Our tree this year is one of my favorites ever. Since adding the piano, our already small living room is especially packed, so we really didn't have much space for a tree. We moved the end tables to a temporary location and moved the love seat into the corner, and just barely had a tiny little space left. Luckily, Chris and my brother, Jake, found this tall, skinny tree that fits just perfectly. It reminds me a lot of the tree we got in Washington when we drove up into the mountains and cut it down ourselves. We may have to do that next year-- it's so fun. Anyway, our tree couldn't be more perfect.

There is nothing more festive than pulling out all of your old ornaments. I love just sitting and looking at them. If you came into my living room and looked at our tree, you would know that we have sons, that there is at least one Utah fan in the house, and that we've been to some fun places. Our ornament this year was purchased in Vancouver, BC-- a real maple leaf set in metal.

At the beginning of the month, Chris and I went to my company Christmas Party. I borrowed a dress from my sister, Caitlan, and got a little bit dressed up. It was fun, and don't we look cute? Aw.

A few days later, I bought a ready-to-make Gingerbread house kit at Michael's. I had thought that the boys would just go crazy with the decorating, and had planned to let each of them tackle half of the house. Instead, they looked together on the box the kit came in, picked out one of the sample designs, and meticulously placed each little candy while I frosted. It was really cute. They didn't even try to eat any of the kit candy-- of course, having a little bowl of M&Ms nearby helps with that!

I have some more to show and tell, but this will have to suffice for now. Only three days 'til Christmas!!

Oh, and I don't think you read this, my friend Anna, but if you do: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


From Chris:
We are a one-car family — for the moment anyway. 

Our Camry sold today — a lot faster than we had expected. I'm off to Salt Lake on Monday to bring back a "big, juicy van." (That's a quote from Seinfeld, for those of you who didn't notice it.) We were really sad to see our Camry go, but a nice young man who needed it got it.

When I said we are a one-car family, what I really meant was we are a half-car family, because that's what a Kia Sportage is - half of a regular car. At least it's paid off.

Hopefully, Elise's Christmas present will look something like this (without the dopey guy sitting in the driver's seat, of course):

Monday, December 15, 2008

Camry for Sale

Know anyone who wants a wonderful, reliable Camry? Ours is for sale. Check out the ad here.

I am really sad to be selling our Camry-- it has been the best car! We're just a little too squished when we're all riding in it, so we've decided that it's time to expand. Boo.

How stinking cute is that!?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ah, Gordon.

No, these aren't block towers. Look closely and you'll see that they're each made exactly the same. He made a whole army of them-- ten, I think.

Here's a hint:

Pretty clever, huh?

Gordon certainly keeps life fun and interesting. Here are just a few funnies from the past couple of weeks:

"Mom, you have a big, huge, gigantic bum. And Neil has a teeny, tiny bum."

(Don't you just love 3-year-old body observations?)

While watching "Scrooge" with Chris, "Is that guy Screwed?"

Neil was fussing in the car on the way home from dropping Thomas off at school. I said, "Oh, Neil, what are we going to do with you?" Gordon said, "How 'bout 'time out'"?

Little Neil

Or not-so-little Neil, depending on who you talk to. While it is true that Neil has mastered the growing thing in his short two months of life, he's still only in the 32nd percentile on the chart, so he's still a little thing. Mmm, and he is a luscious little thing! I just love his squishy little body and his soft baby skin, not to mention that amazing baby smell. Sigh. If he could just stay small!

Neil-Nee-Neil, as Gordon calls him, has been smiling a lot in the last couple of days, though I have yet to capture it on my camera. It's quite heart-warming, and everyone else in the family has made it a regular practice to try to get those smiles to surface. I think you can see hints in these pictures...

He has also discovered his thumb-- how sweet is that? Neither of the older boys were thumb-suckers, so we'll see if Neil keeps this up. I just think it's cute.

We went to the doctor today and received all good news-- Neil is growing well and is developmentally on track. He did have to get some immunizations, which always breaks my heart a bit, but he was a little trooper. Love this boy!

After-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

Since Chris had to work on T-Day, his parents were generous enough to delay their traditional celebration for Saturday, when we could join them in Salt Lake. Aside from the flood, we had another perfectly wonderful weekend!

While Grammuh was finishing the dinner on Saturday, Grampuh took the boys to Toys R Us and let them pick out some toys to bring home. Gordon chose a sidewalk chalk set, which he and Chris used to make the small sidewalk in Gramm's backyard look quite colorful, and a Thomas the Train DVD. Thomas picked a large drawing pad and a very fancy art set. His set includes several different types of artist tools-- crayons, paints, markers, and even oil pastels. Here he is with his first masterpiece-- in mixed media, of course.

Thanks, Grampuh, for spoiling our boys!!

Speaking of spoiling, Chris was definitely in heaven with three kinds of pie. I think I've mentioned before that I am not a pie person-- I am no good at making it and never do, and I really don't prefer eating it to other desserts like, say, cake. Chris, on the other hand, loves almost every kind of pie (maybe every kind, I can't think of one he doesn't like) and can make a mean pie crust himself. He got his pie-making skills from his mother, and he looks forward to her pies with great anticipation. He also likes the real whipped cream, as you can clearly see...

Gordon prefers a cherry on top, or several.

After a delicious meal and a fun day with the family, we got to help decorate the Christmas tree. Chris's parents collect a new ornament each year (we borrowed that tradition in our own family), so it is always fun to open the ornaments and reminisce. The first one on the tree is their first ornament, an adorable Santa. Tommer had the honor of hanging him this year.

We're so thankful for Chris's parents for hosting us for our delayed holiday! It was so much fun!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recipes: Peanut Butter Treats!

Elena called for Christmas cookie recipes, so I thought I'd share my favorite peanut butter and chocolate treats. There are few things more delicious (or fattening) than peanut butter and chocolate, so you may as well get your fill before those New Years resolutions start!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Why buy Reese's when you can make your own?

Grease a 9X13 pan

1 1/4 cups peanut butter
3/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

Add and mix by hand:
1 more cup powdered sugar
3 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Press mixture into pan

Melt on Low heat:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Spread melted mixture over peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chocolate layer is firm. Try not to eat the whole pan!

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies
The little extras make a huge difference in these tasty cookies!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

then stir in:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Next, add:
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups flour
(add more flour if your dough is too sticky)

Finally, add
1 cup Reese's peanut butter chips (about 1/2 bag)
6 full sized Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped

Roll into balls and flatten with your hand or with a fork.
Bake at 375 for 7-9 minutes.

Recipe: Dinner Rolls

These are great no-frills rolls. Very simple ingredients, but they turn out great.

2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
1 can of evaporated milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup oil
1 cup hot water
1 Tbs quick-rise yeast

Add 5-6 cups of flour, mix thoroughly. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until dough doubles in size.

Form into fist-sized balls and place in greased pan(s). This recipe yields 21 rolls, so I use a 9X13 and an 8X8 pan. Cover and let rise another hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I'm not going to ask you again...

Addresses, people!

I'm putting my Christmas cards together tonight and thought that there are some of you who really should get a card from me, but won't if I don't have your address. I love sending Christmas cards-- it's an important part the holidays for me. Every year, the week after Christmas, I buy my cards for the next year. Then, I hide them away for the year, forget all about them, then surprise myself with my selections when I get them out in December. It's so fun and it kind of kicks off the season for me. Those of you who have received my cards in the past also know that I always enclose a newsletter (one that I usually go overboard on, and this year is no exception) and usually enclose a little prize as well. It's all very Christmas-y.

And it's not e-mail-able, so if you want one, send me your address. You know who you are. elisehansen1 at hotmail.

I don't like stragglers, so if I don't have your address by tomorrow, you'll have to wait for next year.

By the way, I have a TON of stuff to blog, but I need to get these cards done first. Sorry. :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fun with Photoshop

I know, I know. I'm driving myself crazy with my lack of blogging! It has been a busy week and I've been working on a couple of projects that really needed to get finished. Fortunately, I'm almost caught up-- let's just say that it's kind of amazing how many loads of laundry five people produce, particularly when one of them spits up on everything. Sigh. Anyway, I've just finished a project on Photoshop, and I had to share this little remnant. Fun, huh?