We had a cool thanksgiving at the McCowen's. It was a beautiful day and we started it out with breakfast on the patio overlooking the golf course. Some hummingbirds were feeding with us. It was beautiful.

I prepared more of the meal than usual. I usually just make one item. This year I made a few. Some lessons learned.... My hand mixer broke so I used my food processor to whip the sweet potatoes. This was a happy accident, because they were so smooth and fluffy. I used fresh green beans in the green bean casserole and learned that they take longer to cook than the canned ones, and that the french fried onions on top are gross. Next time I will use breadcrumbs or corn flakes. The pumpkin cookies (recipe below) were a major hit, especially with Mark, who pestered everyone to have one all day. I also made a ham. They take over two hours to heat up.

After dinner, we talked for a while and then went home to go to bed early so we would be rested for VEGAS, BABY!

We went mainly to take some pictures, which we enjoyed. We also got to walk so much that we probably worked off some of our holiday calories.

However, since Vegas has "Taco Time," we put them back on right away. The picture below shows how pissed I am when I have to leave Taco Time behind to come home.

We just stayed over one night and came home. It was enjoyable.


Weekend Roundup

As usual last weekend, we went on a little excusion. This time, we went to the Lost Dutchman's State Park, First Water Trail... at daybreak. We got there early and took some interesting night shots. (My favorite one is on Mark's flickr.) Here are a few of my shots from the fun:

It was a beautiful place to hike. The trails are free and open to camping and overnighting (no motorized vehicles, though.) I fantacized going on a three day horseback camping trip into these mountains.

Great Pumpkin Cookies

I just made these terrific cookies in my quest to find the perfect choc chip pumpkin cookie. They are very delicious, so I thought I would share the recipe.

Mix and set aside:
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c oatmeal

Cream together:
1 c brown sugar
1/2 egg
1/2 c granuated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c softened butter or margarine

Add to wet mixture:
1 c canned cooked pumpkin

Mix well.

Slowly mix in the flour mixture.
Lastly, stir in

1 c choc chips
1/2 c chopped nuts (walnuts)

For each cookie, drop 1/4 c dough on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until firm and lightly brown. Remove and cool. Makes about 12 cookies.



This day has turned out awesome.
Things that contributed to it's goodness:

I got to talk to Evan until my phone died and we rarely have a chance to connect.
I got a check in the mail from an Actuary Club Scholarship I was not expecting that paid my exam fees for me. (Free money would have been enough to make my day great by itself!)
I got my invite to graduation convocation.
I got a test back with a good grade sustaining my senior-theory that you can go to college without ever actually going to class and still get good grades.
I mailed Eva and Mom's Christmas Packages... nearly done with that busy making stuff.
I went cycling at the gym for the first time in a while due to a crazy schedule and got a great workout.
I realized that the future holds:
Next week - the opening round of what I like to call the eating season: food, lots and lots of food and for once, both Mark and I are OFF for four straight days to eat it.
The next week - try #2 on the Actuary Exam
The next week - no school, prep for finals
The next week - Finals and Graduation
The next week - nothing, absolutely nothing.... nothing. Wow. nothing. Can you even imagine? Well, I will continue to study for the Actuary Exam on the high likelihood that I will need to take it again in February... but really, this particular week... I'm not going to. I'm going to do nothing.

My day just got even better just thinking about it. I'm giddy. I don't know how I'm ever going to get to sleep. But, when I do, I will have sweet, sweet dreams about nothing. Nothing and eating. Maybe I should fit a few extra trips to the gym during the nothing to make up for the season of eating.



According to the article in the Salt Lake City Tribune, titled
"Happy Birthday - times 3 - Generations share the same date - what are the odds?"
by Jennifer W. Sanchez the fact that my sister, her daughter and her granddaughter all have the same birthday, Nov 7 is a coincidence that only happens with a probability of one in 133,225.
I love my family. We defy the odds all the time.


NOTE: I have a new flickr photo sharing account. Take a look at my photography and artwork, if you like. I have two layouts to do and I will be done with my first complete scrapbook, 2005... I am scanning the pages and making them available on that site. When they are all up, i will put them in order so you can select "slideshow" and flip through. I will let you know when that time comes.

I have also altered my scrapbooking blog to be a weekly tutorial - I try something new each week and learn stuff the hard way so you don't have to. (i.e. the embossing heat tool will melt your carpet if you don't put your work on a phone book first.) I also offer step-by-step Photoshop 7 tips to acheive the results on the layout I feature. I will try to post something new every week by Monday, unless something comes up.

I have been trying to figure out how to get all my millions of craft crap items into some storage solution that allows me to use them with ease and then put them out of sight with ease. I came up with this: I bought this rolling cart, which is the right size for the tools and basic items that always have to come out. It is super cute and has canvas pockets down the side. I keep all my tools in my tool tote, and my layouts in progress in special folders. If only my brain were this organized.

Then, I bought little plastic tubs at the dollar store to put the stuff that only has to come out when you are working on a project of a certain type. In my case, I chose to go with type = color. This was a hard choice for me because I like all my similar items together (embroider floss in one container, embossing powder in another...) but I listed over 40 different items that I use with scrapbooking... and chose 8 color bins and 3 neutral tones bins instead of 40 dissimilar sized containers. Me doing my thing. I really should work at a desk or something, but I love sitting on the floor with all my crap spread out around me. Usually, Mark hangs out with me while I scrap, either working on his photos for his flickr on the laptop or putting on a movie for us (which I half-watch... which is perfect for the titles he really wants to see but I only sort of want to see.) Lately, we've been doing old Star Trek: Next Generation episodes. We saw the one that was written by the officiant who married us (Susan Sackett.) It's called "The Game."

I am going to spend my weekend pulling everything out of my "Craft Closet," throwing much of it out, making a spot for my cart, and then moving everything back in beautifully. I have a feeling I will need some motivation, so I am telling myself that once I fit everything in, I can see how easily it comes back out... and make a page for my book.
Here is a business plan to make you rich... offer a photo scanner that has a 12x12 bed... The closest is the Mustek A3, which is 11.6 x 17... while you are at it, you could make a printer that prints on 12x12 with archival ink and you could sell it for $450 and still be backordered...



This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.


State Fair

I think what is happening is that since the weather finally became tolerable and we haven't done anything for such a long time, that we are binging on activities. This weekend we went to the State Fair. We went on a 15 story Ferris Wheel, which was actually pretty scary, and that's coming from an extreme adventure junkie.

We got some fun art pictures and had a fun time people watching and hanging out. Here are some pictures:



We went with Stephanie Trick-Or-Treating. It seems like this is really a dying tradition. There is so much of a push toward "Fall Festivals" or Trunk-Or-Treat parking lot deals that for a while, I thought we had the wrong day. For the first half-hour, I only saw one other T-O-T-er and it was a little 3 year old cow. It picked up a bit later when the teens came out because those kids see an opportunity when one presents itself.

I personally Trick-Or-Treated this year. I got a lot of strange looks, because, well, I'm 30. I guess they expect you not to pander for candy past a certain point, but I still got some loot. I dressed up as a fairy godmother to all those princesses out there. Apparently, I looked like someone named "Ugly Betty."