Friday, December 29, 2006

It isn't often that a 60* December day in STL occurs (despite what my nephew is believing these days) so I suggested we go to the zoo. I had one taker, my 7 year old niece Chloe.

I really enjoyed our special afternoon together--Chloe and Auntie. We walked through the Rivers Edge; saw the elephants. Visited the puffins and penguins. Saw the gorillas. Drank a Coca~Cola. Looked for ice cream with no luck. Kept missing the train everytime we wanted to ride. Saw a real STL cardinal fluttering near the big cats. Decided the loose tooth was so bothersome "Auntie needs to pull it". So I did--a lost tooth in the middle of the zoo deserved a phone call to mom to alert her (and the tooth fairy) of this exciting news. Saw the zebras, the camels and couple of prairie dogs. All the while Chloe instructed me when and what to snap pictures of with my new camera. It was a great day! Just me and little Chloe.

Ich liebe Chloe!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas was wonderful, filling in so many ways--family, friends, food (my Cocoa Spiced Pork was the hit of the season), presents, presents and presents, games galore. It passes all to quickly.

I don't know what seems more chaotic, all the preparation of Christmas or when my sister arrives from Michigan for a four day visit? My sister in from Michigan!

God bless all the mothers of the world who have more than three children. I think for the last 12 hours I have been trailing behind five kids (Alee is out of town) with my dust buster in hand catching cookie crumbs--no that is my sister's cookie crumbs. There are pillows and blankets everywhere. Suitcases. The fridge is overflowing even more now with prime rib and turkey that traveled all the way from Detroit just to be eaten (so not to spoil in waste).

Chloe, my youngest niece requested a bubble bath in my jet tub. Bubbles almost suffocated the poor child, but she loved it. Uli has found feast in the hair of her American Girl dolls; which leaves me chasing the puppy in circles.

It is so gorgeous here today I sent the kids outdoors to play. I heard my nephew say "we don't need coats in STL they have two seasons spring and summer". Although a total incorrect assumption, spoken like a true Michigander--yikes say it isn't so!

Alee and Kevin arrived safely in Bayou La Batre, Alabama to rehab Katrina houses.

I believe rest and relaxation will come January 3 when my girls are back in school!

For all the cooks out there here is the pork recipe:

Seared Pork Tenderloin w/ Cocoa Spice Rub

1 T whole white peppercorns
1 T whole coriander
4 1/2 T cinnamon
2 t. nutmeg
1 t. ground cloves
3 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
4 T sea salt
2-2 lb. pork tenderloins
2 T olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 In a medium saucepan over med heat, toast peppercorns and coriander seeds until they begin to pop. Remove from heat and grind to a fine powder in a spice mill or coffee grinder (I use a chopper). Mix the ground pepper and coriander w/ remaining spices, cocoa and salt.

Trim the pork tenderloins of fat and silver skin. Rub w/a generous amount of the rub. Heat the olive oil over med heat in a large sauté pan. Sear all sides of the tenderloins until a rich brown color is achieved, about 2 min. per side. Remove from pan and finish in the oven for about 10 min or until cooked thru.

Let the tenderloins rest out of the oven for at least 10 min. before slicing. Extra rub will keep for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Notes: This makes a lot of rub but I like to keep it on hand because once it is made the most time consuming part is done. I have also used black peppercorns and don't see any problem w/it. I have found that 10 min. is not enough to cook the meat thru. I use a meat thermometer and take them out when it reads 160, let it rest, and it is usually done perfectly.

Friday, December 22, 2006

In an effort to bolster my Christmas cheer I have been sampling (over the last two days) the cocktails I will be serving at the multiple family gatherings (I am hosting) this weekend.

First, the pomegranate martini should only be drank with a full stomach of food--whoaaaa nelly it got me when I was not expecting. Tasty though, very tasty!

1/2 oz. Pomegranate Schnapps
1 oz citrus vodka
splash of sprite or lemonade
shake and pour in chilled martini glass

Tonight I am being held hostage in the kitchen-- first by need, second by the high school Christmas party that is happening in my downstairs rec room, so I figured good time to sample cocktail number two, the White Christmas (with 58* Midwestern winter temperatures this is as white as Christmas is going to get). My dear friend Lucy's chocolate chunk pecan cookie bars are turning out to be a wonderful compliment to my "White Christmas".

This sweet cocktail can be used as a dessert, too. Though similar to regular eggnog, the white chocolate liqueur makes this drink even more decadent. Serve with cookies or a simple dark chocolate poundcake for a rich ending to the evening (or in my case the beginning, middle and end).

4 ounces eggnog (homemade or commercially prepared) 1/2 ounce white chocolate liqueur 1 ounce Southern Comfort
Directions: Mix all the ingredients and serve straight up in a snifter.
Servings: 1 cocktail.

So I raise my glass to all my family and friends wishing you all a blessed and Merry Christmas!

Alee, Liz and Mary's party was a success. Let me just say at the high school parties I went to there was never food available! My ole' high school friend came over tonight to keep me company-- we decided we should have been in the band they have respectable parties with not only a smorgasborg of food but, games, karokee, poker, Twister, etc, etc...
Everything is cleaned up, at nearly 1am I am crawling into my bed to wake in the morning to holiday chores.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pardon the interruption in MY LIFE... I will be cleaning Maddi's bedroom all day (hopefully I will finish today).

So far, in the closest, I have found last year's Hershey chocolate Santa. Mmmmm should be be pretty tasty now-- if not the festive wrapper is in synch with the season.

I regret to inform Maddi last spring break project-- cutting a magazine in confetti size pieces of paper has gone to the trash. The jewelry box that held it once again holds jewelry.

The gold balloon hiding in the pillow sham is now free and ready to celebrate New Years.

The neon green sock you never could find well... it has been rescued from the depth of the closest, along with so many other items it is not worth listing them all. Imagine wearing two green socks?

I am doing this task, monumental task alone to preserve my Joan Crawford Mommy Dearest persona for another more deserving occasion.


Brief intermission in the cleaning to retrieve Maddi from the 8th grade and mossy on down to the doctor to be diagnosed with what is sure to become bronchitis if not for the administered antibiotics.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

If you could go back in time and relive certain days would you? I would.

I would relive the days of the birth of each of my daughters.

That feeling, that rush of a love like no other--unconditional love. To hold there tiny sweet naive beings in my arms. To trace there petite lips with my finger, then leaning forward to tenderly kiss my baby girl(s). The fingers, the toes, to stroke the hair (well Maddi's hair since she was born with a mop of it)...

Why all this reflection? Maddi turned 14 today. In the blink of an eye time has raced forward, not allowing me soak in every moment and every cherished memory of my "baby girl".

Happy Birthday Maddi, I love you much!!!!!

Side Note: the portion of Maddi's birth I would change is having the knowledge that whatever you scream out in those birthing rooms transcends through the entire hospital--screaming out "SH*%, SON-OF-A-B*^(#@ this hurts" for all to hear, well I would be glad not to have that on moment recorded on a home DVD.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Pass the hand lotion...

Scrubbing the house down with bleach (in an attempt to pass off the idea that my house is always near white glove testing quality clean) can really suck all the moisture from the skin.

Oh Jo your white counters look fabulous, however do you keep them so white? But you know only a moran would have white kitchen counters.

But I am hoping, like last year, my sister-in-law walks into my house on Christmas Day for our festive family gathering, and says "who does your cleaning"--to which I will once again reply (smiling while snickering under neath) "well I do it all!"

... And then I will smile once more knowing the dust and dirt will begin reappearing the next day.

Now, if you would pass that lotion again...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It is our tradition that the wisemen travel the house till they reach the navity on Christmas Eve night--mode of transportation, the girls feet.

When our Christmas baking commenced last Saturday, in marched the three wisemen. Baking ceased--finally-- last night and the wisemen can't seem to bring themselves to travel out of the kitchen.

What is the reason...The peanut kiss cookies? The rolo cookies? My grandma's toffee squares? Or is it my grandma's potato chip cookies? Could it be grandma's Christmas holly cookies (they are the girls favorite, my brother's too)? I know, the spritz? Maybe it is the ordinary chocolate chunk or oatmeal raisin cookies that keep these wise guys hanging out, hovering over the platter of cookies.

What ever the reason I think I will let them know it is time to be moving on...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I have been wanting, waiting for nearly 15 years for this...

I can now say I HAVE A NEW MAILBOX! (pardon me while I do my happy dance)

It is the most beautiful thing, in its hue of bronze with it artistic post-- curved and straight lines. No more chewed bubble gum to hold the red flag up for a mail pick up. No more digging around in the snow to find the flag after the pick up. No more beating the rust lose to free the letters (and bills) from it fifteen layers of black paint (applied lovingly in an effort to resurrect it for yet another year). She is so beautiful, my new mailbox.

...subconsciously we are thinking this mailbox will cause our beloved mailman to postpone his retirement.

But in the meantime she is open for business and accepting Christmas cards.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage

Let me just tell you what doesn't go together--
the spouse and a trip to the grocery store!

I don't know what I was thinking... I must have totally lost all sense of conscienceness when I spoke the words, "honey do you want to come to the grocery store with me"?

A few shopping rules I should have laid out before we entered Dierberg's:
  • I don't do Hamburger Helper (even if you love it).
  • I don't do Chef Boyardee Raviolli (it is not really tomato sauce).
  • I don't do pizza rolls (no matter how much the girls like these processed morsels of nasty being passed off as a bite sized stuffed pizza) two weeks in a row.

    I considered taking his life, claiming death of natural causes in isle 4A-- the soup isle-- when the loving spouse tried to inform me he would "teach me how to shop" by buying the family size can of Campbell's Bean and Bacon soup. Then I realized better alive than dead; we need his paycheck to buy his over sized can of bean soup. Oh Jo be really cruel by withholding his doses of Bean-o prior to the consumption of his mansized can of bean soup, gas pains honey that is a simple pay back for the hell of shopping with your spouse.

    Then the spouse becomes the traveling man somewhere between the deli and the dairy case (I once left him at the store during our first year of marriage for that exact reason).

    When we got to the Party Center isle aka the booze isle I took possession of a bottle of citrus vodka and he took a hold of a bottle of whiskey. I profess I needed it more than he!

    As we were leaving the grocery store-- with not one cart but two (because Frank the 70 year old bag boy convinced the aggravating spousal shopping partner that we need not smash the canned veggies at the bottom of the cart)-- an acquaintance from the kid's school stops in the parking lot rolls down her window and yells out "those who shop together stay together", then she roared in laughter, rolled up the window and drove away.

    That was all the affirmation I needed to know that I in fact lost my mind for a brief moment today. Now someone kick me in the ass and bring me back!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It goes like this...

Dear Proctor and Gamble
It seems I am in need of buying another share of stock--preferably in feminant products. You see there is a new "woman" in our house today...

Poor Kevin I think he will begin spending more and more time in the basement.

As for me, my once personal supply of product will be raided by yet another of my off spring-- who will neglect to say they need there own supply restocked.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Well it was that time of year again yesterday, the Christmas card photo shoot. Despite the carols that filled the air of the house and the hot milk laced with chocolate powder and minimarshmallows-- Alee summed it up perfectly "our annual dysfunctional Christmas card photo shoot".

I don't know what it is about asking the girls to humor me with a snapping of about 45 photos in long sleeves t-shirts and hats/scarves/ear muffs on an ice covered lawn (for a truly inspired holiday card) with temperatures in the teens and gusting winds but, it was an argument before we let the chilled air sting our faces.

M:"I don't have a t-shirt like that and I am not wearing the one with a fur trim at the neck"

J: "Maddi it is sure to add pizazz to the picture. Oh and babe no Violet Incredible hair, I want to see both your eyes, none of that bang draped across the face hiding the right eye "

M: I'm not wearing that, I want to look like everyone else and... I AM NOT VIOLET INCREDIBLE Stoppppppp!

frustration just setting in

J: Demi let's curl your hair, just the front pieces as no one will see the back of your head in the photo

D: I told you I wanted my hair cut before we took Christmas card pictures

J: Demi I tried there was no available appointments, just work with me babe, please...

in her usual state of the last 12 years of Christmas card pictures she is preparing to aggravate and be difficult

J: flailing the curling iron in air Demi knock it off GET OVER HERE NOW! We are curling the hair!! (forget I asked her to apply chapstick to her carpet fur lips)

A: hurry guys my hair looks really good, oh I'm not wearing a hat it will ruin my hair

now you know I am at the whatever point

J: Demi come on let's curl the hair (in the meantime Maddi is still carrying on about the solid color t-shirt she says doesn't own and her hair)

M: I'm gonna wear my burglar black stocking cap

J: NO! NO-NO-NO!!!!

Then it happened, I lost it! I picked up a box of Kleenex and I chucked against the wall. I had a temper tamtrum, a grown woman breaking down over assembling her off spring in coordinating fashion and styled hair for a stinking picture that 90% of the receivers will chuck in the trash can come January 1 never to appreciate the full intensity it took to captures that one great shot.

Since it was a dysfunctional experience I figured, as long as we are at it lets add the puppy to the picture (to heighten the frustration). Then to really cap things off Maddi decided she needed to be Audrey Hepburn in her black pointed toe kitten heal pumps adorning her bare feet--forget that she'll be walking on a sheet of ice and no one will see (most likely) her feet in the picture.

It took three rounds (breaks taken warming by the fire to thaw while Kevin and I viewed the taken photos) to capture what we think is the perfect picture worthy of the Avery Family 2006 Christmas card.

Round three Alee had this "brilliant" idea that they all climb the fence of our neighbor and sit atop his fallen tree (that came crashing at our fence line in the storm nearly missing the power lines). So there the girls were scaling the fence and popping up on the [half] large tree trunk, that is until Maddi tried. Let's just say trying to be Audrey Hepburn in the feet and fence hopping don't mix. Nor did it work to well climbing the tree. Maddi gave herself a chain link enema~ouch! It wasn't until the end of my tyring like hell to be "Anne Leibovitz" that Maddi began to cry, a nearly 14 year old chilled to the bone girl dying at how she was going to get off the tree now and back over the fence in those dam shoes.

And there have it what we think could be the picture perfect Christmas 2006 photo for our card! Which one? Watch for the results in your mailbox.

Friday, December 01, 2006

We got our snow day alright, or do we refer to this as an ice day? You decide.

Well considering the conditions I should probably head to the back yard and work on my triple salchow and my lutz. I would like to impress everyone at the ice rink this year.

A day like today calls for a pipping hot cup of cocoa.