Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Portland Snowpocolypse

In case you haven't heard, we have had a ton of snow in Portland. It all started last Sunday (as in 9 days ago). Tomorrow (Christmas Eve) might bring more, but supposedly that'll be the end of it. I don't really mind the snow too much, although getting around is somewhat challenging because I don't have snow boots. Here are few pictures ...

This is our Pathfinder on Sunday morning. You should have seen it later that day!
Carl spent an hour digging it out.

Here's a photo of the playground, taken from our loft window.

And finally, some of the plants in our front yard.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mmmmm, butter

Yesterday, I received a press release announcing the Dairy Farmers of Oregon Butter Up the Holidays Recipe Contest. Usually, I delete unsolicited press releases -- but when I saw the words "butter" and "contest" in the subject line I was intrigued (I do love baking, after all) and had to keep reading.

I am determined to win this contest (the grand prize is a $150 gift certificate to Park Kitchen -- a restaurant that has been on my must-check-out list forever -- as well as $100 gift card to Zupan's)!!! I have lots and lots of great buttery recipes (like my magical pecan bars and my delish Nutella cookies), and fortunately you can enter as often as you wish. So, that is exactly what I'll be doing for the duration of the contest (entering as often as I wish). I already entered one recipe -- creamy veloute sauce -- but I don't really expect it to be a contest winner. I just wanted to get something in asap because the first 50 people to enter receive a four pack of tickets to Twas the Night Before Christmas at the Pittock Mansion, and I know that recipe off the top of my head.

So anyway, here is a copy of the press release with all the pertinent details ...

PORTLAND, Ore.- (December 1, 2008) –The Dairy Farmers of Oregon is calling for entries for its inaugural “Butter Up the Holidays Recipe Contest” this holiday season. To enter the butter recipe contest, log on to www.butteruptheholidays.com throughout December and submit your recipe. The Dairy Farmers of Oregon welcomes any butter recipe: holiday dish, baked goods, appetizers, main courses, desserts, snacks - or any creative recipe you would like to submit.

“Butter is one of the most important and used ingredients during the holiday season,” said Dan Cox, Director of Marketing and Communications, Oregon Dairy Products Commission. “We would love to see how butter is incorporated in a variety of foods through recipes from a variety of people – from home cooks to foodies to experienced chefs.”

Two grand prize winners will receive gift certificates for $150 each to Park Kitchen Restaurant, located in Portland’s Pearl District, and a $100 gift card to Zupan’s Markets in the Portland area. Additionally, two runners-up will receive a hardbound copy of the of The Great Big Butter Cookbook.

Entries will be judged on the successful use of butter as a major recipe ingredient. Individuals can enter as often as they wish; however multiple entries of the same recipe will not be accepted.

Deadline for submissions is December 31, 2008. Winning entries will be announced and winners contacted no later than Friday, January 30, 2009. To enter and see a full list of contest rules, go to www.butteruptheholidays.com.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wal-Mart trampling

Did you hear about the man working at Wal-Mart who got trampled to death when he unlocked the store's doors on Black Friday? How sad. And how pathetic that people are so eager to get a bargain that they are willing to charge through the doors like that! I place most of the blame on Wal-Mart, though. The company exploits the very people they supposedly "serve," and many of its business practices are deplorable. Why didn't they have safety measures in place? This tragedy was completely avoidable, and I think Wal-Mart should be held accountable. I wish people would just stop shopping at that place.

Four Christmases

I didn't make it on opening night, but I did see the movie before the end of the long weekend. Just ignore the reviews that say this movie is predictable and unfunny -- I had fun, and if you like Reese Witherspoon, Vince Vaughn and/or chick flicks I think you'll enjoy yourself at Four Christmases, too. The only other movie out this holiday season that I really want to see is Marley & Me. I have a feeling Marley & Me will make my all-time favorite movie list (I hope I'm not disappointed). Move over Enchanted, Office Space, Legally Blonde and Nacho Libre.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Black Friday shopping: a guest post by Erin Dunkle

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I won't have time to post this weekend, so I recruited my blog friend Erin to write a guest post. Erin and I have never met in person, but we have a special connection. Her husband, Geoff, is waiting for liver transplant right now (and he's been waiting patiently for a long time) and as some of you know I've been through that myself. So, needless to say, when she found me through my other blog we became fast friends (if we lived closer, I am sure we would hang out and drink wine and shop together!!). Anyway, read on for her reflections on Black Friday shopping!! And after you read it I hope you'll drop by her blog, Life With the Dunkles, and find out the latest with LiverWait '08. Please say a prayer for her husband, too.

It’s coming…

And no, I am not talking about Thanksgiving or Christmas. I am talking about Black Friday. BRING. IT. ON. This is one of those days that I get so fired up about. Okay, so, I know the economy is bad and my Roth 401K is gone, and my husband is waiting for a liver transplant, but I am throwing that all out the window (well not the husband and the liver thing) and jumping in feet first!

This is an annual tradition (one that I cannot wait to pass onto my daughter) that my family and I have done for years. It starts on Thanksgiving morning. We are up bright and early scouring the ads one-by-one, placing them in their appropriate piles, and re-reading them just to be sure nothing was missed.

The piles are typically labeled:
1) MUST-MUST have
2) If we can’t get the must-must haves then we will move onto these items
3) If we strike-out on the first two piles then let’s just buy these items so we don’t look like total losers for getting up at 3:00AM

It’s sick. It’s an addiction. I know. One year I stood in line at Best Buy starting @ 4:00AM with my mom and aunt just to walk out of there at 5:30AM with a $5 Johnny Cash CD.

This year I’m taking it up a notch. This year I will be shopping at our local outlets at midnight on Thanksgiving. That’s right you read that correctly, the local outlet mall is opening at midnight for their big “Thanksgiving Sale”. I’ve recruited some friends and my mom. Were all set to go. Since the ads have not “officially” come out (I’ve been Googling the ads for days online), I’m not exactly sure how my day will go, but one thing is for sure, tomorrow I will be up at the crack of dawn putting together my “piles”.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The verdict

Thanks for all the feedback about the Christmas tree dilemma. Carl and I discussed this yesterday, and we decided that we are going to get a tree this year (a small one!). We pretty much live in the Christmas tree capitol of the U.S.A. (I'm not kidding -- we have at least 10 tree farms, probably more, within a three-mile radius of our house), so buying a tree supports our local economy. And, fortunately for us, we have lots of lots of ways to recycle trees around here. We usually leave ours out for the Boy Scouts (they take it away for a $5 donation). To find a tree recycle program in your area, click on over to the National Christmas Tree Association's web site. All you have to do is enter your zip code, and it will tell you where you can take your tree for recycling.

The Advent Conspiracy

So, as you all know (because I said so here in this blog), this time of year really, really drives me nuts. It's not that I don't love Christmas. I do love it. And I love Christmas because I love Jesus. Christmas is about His birth, and the fact that God came from Heaven to Earth to redeem us. What I don't like so much is how our society has turned Christmas into a holiday that is all about gifts, food, decorations, parties and, well, stuff.

This year, however, I think people are starting to get back to basics. Money is tight for lots of us, and in the context of the holiday season I think this a blessing. I won't get a Coach handbag this year, and I'm not going to get the new piano I want either. I'll admit that I am really bummed out about the piano -- but I also know that I'll get one when the time is right. It doesn't have to be for Christmas.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. Today, I heard about a very cool project called The Advent Conspiracy. The idea? Worship fully, spend less, give more, love all. Find out more in this video ...