Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rocky Mountain Christmas

For the first time in five years I spent Christmas Day with my family this year. This is one of those sweet rewards of quitting my job as a news anchor. No more spending holidays in newsrooms.

Life is good.

But I fear if I talk about it too much, I will totally and completely piss off every last one of my friends who are still in the news business. So newsies: quit reading, close your computer and walk away from the blog. 

We got to our cabin in Colorado on Christmas Eve. To my surprise, my dad (who came up a week and a half earlier) had carefully and thoughtfully decorated the entire place.

My mom has this man trained well. Well, at least in this one aspect.

The cabin is called Majestic View, but I've dubbed it Doggy Heaven.

These dogs are getting so spoiled rotten with attention, it will take weeks to get them back to normal once we get home.

What a lazy bum.

Once Christmas morning rolled around, I was excited. Like little kid excited.

We haven't all been in the same room at the same time since my wedding two years ago.

And then my brother had to go and steal the show when he revealed that he bought a set of antique skis to hang in the dining room.

Thanks butthead. Now I'm going to have to try and top that next year.

This poor girl is about to join the family. Should I warn her now about how we really are?

Big brother and his fancy skis just got outdone. Dad surprised everyone with homemade cornhole games. (It's a tailgating thing.)

One set had a Chiefs board for the cheerleader and a Kansas State board for the alum.

Ours (minus the back-ordered decals) will feature West Virginia University and the University of Missouri.

Nice work Daddy.

Next on the order of events: cookie decorating.

We all thought it was a little ridiculous when mom made sugar cookies and told us to decorate them. But we ended up having the time of our lives.

From afar, the cookies didn't look half bad.

But then you look a little closer, and you realize there is a "McCookie Sandwich" made by my brother.

Yes, folks it's double-decker, and he was quite proud of it. 

A little too proud.


No, that's not a marijuana plant. It is my best attempt at holly and berries.

No one really knows what this is. But we do know that it took my husband three cookies to make. And he claims that's a zipper there. Whatever joker.

And who knows what in the heck that thing is. I just know that I'm not eating it.

In this one post, I have officially called my brother a butthead, a dork, made fun of his cookie decorating skills, and now I am really going to keep him from ever talking to me again:

We were treated to quite the fashion show Christmas morning. 

That's all I'm going to say.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And We're Off!

I am full of brilliant ideas. (yeah right) And my most recent brilliant idea was to go on a cross country Christmas trip to visit as many relatives as possible. 

We set off the week before Christmas. Me, my farmer, the Chihuahua, the Border Collie, and about a thousand suit cases. Oh yeah, and my husband convinced me that we should drive his truck. Forget the comforts of my SUV, we crammed ourselves, two pooches and about 100 pounds of dog food into his 4-door pick-up.

Our first stop was Southern Virginia. 

My mother-in-law rented this cool old cabin near her hometown for the week. The house used to be a hotel. 

Just beyond the old fences in the front yard, we had views of a little country church.

My husband's family graciously moved up their Christmas celebration a couple of days early so we could fit it in our whirl-wind trip.

His grandmother, known affectionately to the whole town as "Ma", hosted the meal at her old country store. This store is like something out of a 1950's movie. As the world changes, time has stood so beautifully still there. Ma's store still has the original old wood floors, she still sells drinks in glass bottles and if you show up at the right time, she'll probably invite you to stay for a meal.

 It truly was a perfect backdrop for a family Christmas gathering.

And look, I actually got one picture of the two of us where that nit-wit isn't sticking his tongue out at me.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New York ... errr... Philadelphia

I am an idiot... which usually goes without even saying. I am pretty sure it is common knowledge at this point.

But I recently solidified my spot in the Idiot Hall of Fame.

These two nutjobs are just crazy enough to be my friend. (And thankfully, after last week, they still are.)

We planned a Christmas getaway to Manhattan to check out the lights, catch a show and do some shopping.

Since I used to live in New York and would sometimes take the train into the city, I arrogantly said I would be the best person to organize our transportation.

The trip started out beautifully. We had fun on the train. Laughed, told stories, made fun of my new Barbie-colored hot pink lipstick.

At the end of the line, we got off to the train and were ready to catch a cab and rush over to Radio City Music Hall for our 11:00 show. But something didn't look right. At all.

I asked another lady getting off the train if this was a transfer point. We must have to change trains to get to Penn Station, because this most definitely was not Manhattan.

Nope. It was the ghetto of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia????  Great Andrea. You blew it. 

We just wasted an hour and a half on a train ride to friggin' Philly.

We had to take a city bus to a some corner, where we took a dirty cab to another train station, to catch a train back to the original station in New Jersey, where we eventually got on the right train for Manhattan. 

Worst yet, we missed our show. Which had 100% non-refundable or exchangeable tickets. And to make matters worse, my friend had bought the tickets to the show for us as a Christmas gift. I totally just wasted $200 of her money.

I am not an overly emotionally person but I was ready to break down and start crying. One of those really ugly cries where your whole face puffs up, your eyes turn all red and you can't hardly breathe.

But then we found an angel.

Who snuck us into another show later in the day. Watching the show from folding chairs in the back row of the balcony isn't exactly the floor level view we were hoping for. But at least we finally made it.

Once I quit repeating over and over "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I ruined the whole day," we were able to get on with things and we really enjoyed ourselves.

And then we did a little shopping -- street corner style. Which is the perfect place to go Christmas shopping for those sorta-insignificant types on your list. 

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.

You're no better than me, you've done the same thing.

But maybe just at Wal-Mart or the Dollar Tree instead of a New York City street corner. We all have those emergency stashes of cheap crap in the event of a forgotten birthday or when someone brings by a Christmas present and you say "oh wait, I've got your gift upstairs, I'll be right back." Uh-huh. That's code for "I'm going to go throw some cheap street corner crap in a bag and pass it off as a gift."

We finally made it to Rockefeller Plaza to check out the big tree.

And do a little photo shoot. The locals could spot us as obnoxious tourists from a mile away.

Then we capped off the day with a carriage ride through Central Park.

With Mr. Hottie Russian as our tour guide and driver.

Well, he was hot until he smiled. And until he admitted that he is 40-something and his wife is 20.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hey Good Lookin'

In the six years that I have been with my husband, he has yet to make a real meal in the kitchen. Sometimes I don't even think he knows where the kitchen is, because apparently he's not capable of even getting his own drinks while he watches TV.

This man has gotten off the hook way too long.

Plus, doesn't he know food is the way to my heart?

He finally figured it out the other night.

This is his rendition of Panera's broccoli cheddar soup, made at my request. (And by his rendition, I mean there was lots of ingredient substitutions and several steps skipped in the recipe)

And let's be honest, the request was basically a joke because I never in a million years thought he would drag his man butt to the store and then home to the kitchen.

But he did.

I guess he got tired fending for himself. I have holed myself up in my sewing room for the past few weeks trying to make all of the custom apron orders that I have to ship out before the holidays.

And God bless the man. He made both sweet and unsweet tea to drink, too.

He grew up with Southern roots and won't drink anything but sweet tea. I come from Kansas where sugar in your tea is for sissies.

And to top it all off, he got my drug of choice. Well, at least that's what I call it.

These potato rolls are so addicting they may as well be crack. I might one day have to go to rehab to get myself to stop eating the entire bag in one sitting.

The meal really wasn't half bad. I even got seconds to boost his ego a little.

No more excuses, I now know he can do it.

Well, that's if you ignore the fact that he literally called my cell phone seven times with questions. But the stuff was edible and that's about all you can say for my food half the time.