Thursday, December 30, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

We are in Michigan, safe and sound. And because I would hate to disappoint all my loyal readers who understand "McFarlane Luck" when it comes to our travel...errr...adventures, I will share with you our most recent adventure!

Last night, we were scheduled to leave Denver at 7:45 pm and to arrive in Grand Rapids at 12:15 am. Now, this was not the most ideal of circumstances as it stood. When we boarded on time, knowing that we were leaving a Winter Storm Watch and landing into a Freezing Rain Advisory, we felt pretty fortuate for our perceived change in travel luck. We pushed back on time, drove in a few circles and ended up in what we thought was Wyoming, waiting for our "Performance Report" before we could actually depart...45 minutes late.

So, arriving in Grand Rapids at 1:00 am, we waited, and waited, and waited for our luggage...until 1:30. Oh, and did I mention the freezing rain advisory started at 1:00 am? Sigh.

It was about 3:15 when we finall got to the house (thankfully it was mostly just rain at that time) and were in bed safe and sound by 3:45 am.

After a rotten night sleep, we are all up and really excited to be here. Watching last night's Red Wings/Dallas Stars game, planning our first trip to Jay's, and having coffee at 11:00 in the morning.

It's great to be home!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wanted: Fresh Air

Well, it's official! We have the house to ourselves until Wednesday afternoon when we head to Michigan for Christmas. And strangely, while I am totally over Christmas decorations and music, I don't feel like it's officially been Christmas yet. I suppose that's a good thing, right Mom?!?

With these couple of days I plan to de-Christmas and de-guest the house so that when we get home from second Christmas we can start the year fresh!

I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Wish Every Day was a Ski Day!

Yesterday was the best Colorado ski day I think I have ever had. Or maybe I just enjoyed it the most. Regardless, our winter storm was a no-show, but did leave 7 inches of new powder in Breckenridge. With perfectly sunny skies and 25 degrees with calm winds, you really can't ask for more. Here are some photos from our journey to 11,000 feet!
I couldn't resist the view. We are in the shadow of the mountain and the puffs of clouds.

Chris passed a semi just as I was about to snap a picture of the
Eisenhower Tunnel, elevation 11,158 feet sign.

The entrance to the tunnel.

The base of Peak 8. Elevation 9,950 feet above sea level.

Peak 7. My favorite place. Elevation, 11,095 feet!

And after a long day of near-perfection, this is me on the Gondola headed back to the car. I know the goggles are HUGE in this picture, but they are sitting on top of my helmet...and after all, the Gondola was moving. Chris is only so good with an iPhone camera in moving objects!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's Santa! I know him!

You all know how much I love Santa Claus! He's pretty awesome. Today, my mother-in-law sent one of these to me! And Santa said my name!! Totally awesome, and completely free.

Send one of these to your kiddos. Santa talks to them. So cool I can hardly stand it!

A video from Santa

From 70 to Stormy

It has been a very strange late fall for us. Our temperatures have been warmer than Texas and Florida and extraordinarily dry. Yesterday was a record high of 70 degrees and all the days before that were topping out between 55 and 65. Not that we are complaining. The mountains have had some pretty incredible early-season snow while we have had some extremely dry months. Funny thing...water runs downhill so an ordinary state would be fearing a drought...but not us! We get the spring runoff that fills our water tables so as long as the mountains keep getting pounded with feet of snow, our summer will be just fine.

That being said, I had a couple of vacation days that I needed to use or lose before the end of the year. A month ago we planned to make our first trek to Summit County and hit the slopes of Breckenridge. And as of yesterday they are 83% open with an incredible 51 inch base (which is great for mid-December!). And with the weather we've been having it should be a great day. Maybe even sweatshirt skiing! Yeah. Not so much.

Sometime between lunch and 4:00 pm yesterday, our forecast for Thursday went from sunny and seasonal (mid to upper 40's) to this: From Record Heat to Snow Advisory Yes, that's right. We are under a winter weather advisory for 3-7 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow morning. Which doesn't sound like much until you factor in the idea that the drive from here to Breckenridge traverses nearly 6,000 vertical feet in elevation, and that's just to the Eisenhower Tunnel.

We have decided to go for it, but reserving the right to change our minds at the last minute after a little research on road conditions along I-70 first thing in the morning. And as a precaution, we will be taking the dogs to Camp Bow Wow for doggy day care with the option to stay overnight, just in case!

I think I could be OK getting stuck here! We'll pack the essentials, just in case (keeping fingers crossed! I'll let you guess in which direction!)

Merry Ski Wooley!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Utterly disorganized

I make no bones about the fact that I am a list maker. I love to make them, I love to help others make them, I love to cross things off, and I love to throw the completed list away and start new ones.

That's part of why I love Christmas so much. It's the season of lists. Only this year, I don't have one. Because I know my mom reads this, I can't give away too much detail, but I have four stockings to fill. Two have budgets, two do not. Two will be more thoughtful while two will be full of useless stuff and candy. There are also some small gifts to buy. And I have no list. No list to tell me who I am buying for or what the scope of the purchases should be. No list to tell me what I have already purchased and who is getting it. And worst of all, I remember buying some things but can't remember where I stashed them...guess I should have made a list for that too!

Thankfully my workload has slowed tremendously this week. I plan to make a list of all the above mentioned items, locations, people and ideas in a notebook so that all my lists will be in one place. And maybe while I am at it, I can make a list of other lists I should make, like party menus, groceries to buy, meals to serve, and things that still need to be done. My in-laws will be here in exactly 8 days. I should probably get started!

Merry Wooly!

p.s. Welcome aboard Allison! I can't wait for your blog to start! If you are brainstorming ideas to help you get started, check out The Time Before Dawn , A Happy Little Family and Our Kirker Family Tree. Those are all Mox's kids! And all very different blogs, but so much fun to read! Love you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Merry Wooly

I have no idea what that means! I just know that Grandma Melanie would say that to her closest friends and family in place of Merry Christmas. It's cute. And catchy. I think I am going to see if it will fly at my company Christmas Party tomorrow night (in Dallas).

Here are the things we are excited about today:
1. United upgraded us to first class for our flight to Dallas. It's one hour and thirty minutes of a bigger seat. I would rather save the upgrade for a longer flight, but Chris is so excited to sit in the front of the plane that at 7:30 this morning he did a happy dance...which is funny for two reasons. If you know Chris, you know that happy dances aren't really his thing, and even less his thing: mornings! It was priceless!

2. The Christmas party itself. I am so excited to be back with Marquis. They are the company that helped me find who I really am and break out of my shell. To be in the company of the entire Marquis family, even if only for one night, is exciting. And will be fun.

3. The party is at Jay's house. Jay is one of the 3 brothers that owns the company. He lives in a really cool part of Dallas. We have been notified that we may be subject to secret service screening in that we will be in rental cars. There is also rumor of a golf ball pitching contest. See, George W. Bush lives a few doors down...hence the security. As for the golf balls, well, some of the boys want to hit balls into his back yard. I think I'll stay away from that! Far far away!

4. Saturday night we are headed to the Christmas performance by the Dallas Symphony. I love the symphony and am really excited to hear the Christmas music they perform. Followed by some really yummy Tex-Mex. REALLY excited about that part!

5. Coming home. Such a crazy time of year. I am so grateful that we have an early flight home on Sunday. We should be able to pick the dogs up in the morning and have a somewhat normal Sunday afternoon of cleaning and grocery shopping.

Next weekend we have the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party with some friends. That should be a hoot...and I promise lots of pictures for that one!

Merry Wooly!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Maybe I'll See Santa Later

Well, Friday night was interesting. Dinner was fantastic and fully confirmed that you can "Parmesan encrust" anything and it will be yummy. I this case it was perfectly cooked asparagus with a bleu cheese fodue and tomato relish. Holy cow! Sooo good!

After dinner, the plan was to see the Denver Christmas Parade of Lights. We've been every year since we originally moved here, so this would have been #5. However, it was 70 degrees and sunny here on Friday. That means that EVERY person in the metro area decided to go to the parade this year. The local news reported "more than 100,000 people." The crowd was from the curb to the edge of the buildings of solid people. I lasted about 10 minutes in the haze of cigarette smoke, booze-filled flasks, and other forms of tacky inappropriateness until I decided that Santa wouldn't approve of these people either so it's OK to leave. And we did. And I was not that sad about it. It made for a very productive Saturday.

Let's start with the errands: Chris really wants a train for around the Christmas tree and perhaps as a hobby to entertain him throughout the year. We made the trek to a place called Caboose Hobbies. It was a HUGE store of nothing but mini train stuff. I think I felt as Chris does when I take him into Williams-Sonoma. Fish out of water! But it was fun nonetheless!

Then the cooking: Here's a note for you...when your husband is a master with a grill but is...ummm...well...not so good with other cooking methods, don't try potato latkes and herb Bearnaise sauce at the same time. I literally needed a clone. Although, it all worked out and was REALLY good. Even the sauce. I have never had a Bearnaise before so I have nothing to compare it to. It was a little runnier than I was expecting, but the flavor was fantastic!

Then there was the requested 2-crust cherry pie. I have never made a 2-crust pie before. And my last couple attempts at cherry pie ended with spoons and calling it cobbler (sort of runny!). So, I made the crusts, made the filling, vented the top crust and stuck it in the oven. I am still working on making prettier edges, and my oven is not level so everything spills or moves to the front left, but look! It was perfect. And tasted amazing! My pies will never win a beauty contest, but I have to say (sorry about bragging here!) that it was honestly the best cherry pie I have ever had in my life! HOORAY!! Finally!

Sunday resulted in a day at the computer finishing a huge project for work, a little grocery shopping and cleaning followed by a couple Christmas movies (so long as you count Die Hard 2 as a Christmas movie!).

Another busy week this week, and Thursday we head to Dallas for my company Christmas Party. I am excited about it, but a little stressed about the outfit. I bought a dress and will be returning it today. I hope I can find something a little more practical tonight!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let the Birthday Begin

Chris' birthday is Monday, and in true McFarlane fashion, he will begin celebrating tonight! He feels he's entitled to celebrate like a McFarlane after the pear brandy debacle the first time I brought him home with me...I'll never live that down.

Here's the agenda for our weekend:

5:30 pm: Leave for downtown Denver. Parking then a flight of wine at Cru Wine Bar
6:30 pm: Dinner reservations at The Oceanaire where he can eat his fill of water dwellers and I will have either chicken or pork (steak is tomorrow night!).
8:30 pm: Head back to the car, put on the warm jackets, hats and gloves. Stay for the Denver Christmas Parade of Lights. And Santa is at the end! This is my favorite part! I almost cry every year when I see Santa in the parade. I love him. Maybe it's because I was an adult the first time I saw Santa in a parade!

Saturday: no specific timeline
breakfast in a ramekin with an English muffin, spinach, bacon and an egg.
finish the Christmas lights outside. We need an outdoor bow and 2 floodlights (one for Santa and one for the reindeer)
Whole Foods for dinner fixings. Here's the request:
  • Iceberg Wedge Salad with bleu cheese/ranch dressing, cherry tomatoes and bacon crumbles
  • Petite Fillet Mignon with an herb Bearnaise sauce and sauteed mushrooms
  • Potato and Thyme latkes with thyme and chive sour cream
  • Homemade cherry pie
I guess I will be cooking all afternoon!

Sunday, Chris has requested a lazy day of watching Christmas movies in comfy clothes. I haven't told him yet, but he's on his own on that one! I have some shopping and cleaning to do! Although, I am sure I can find time for a movie or two! There are 24 hours in a day, after all.

Sounds fun and festive to me!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

These are a Few of my Favorite Things

I keep hearing the song. Although I am not sure what it has to do with Christmas! It makes me thing of The Sound of Music which is definitely NOT a Christmas movie. Although I do love the way the song makes me feel.

This week I have been getting bombarded with "Favorite Things" emails. Oprah, Ellen, Barnes & Noble, Ann Taylor, Groupon. Everyone is sharing their list of favorite things that we should all rush out and buy. Well, that inspired me to make a Favorite Things list of my own, although most of them you can't buy. With that, a list. These are a few of my favorite things (in my best Julie Andrews impersonation!)

  1. Christmas lights on other houses. I know I have said it before, but I LOVE our city. I would say that 6 out of 10 homes have Christmas lights on and they are beautiful. It's way more fun to have it dark at 5 pm with all those twinkling lights! Thanks, Highlands Ranch community!
  2. XM radio. With 2 Christmas stations to choose from, I can get my favorites by my favorites including The Ray Conniff singers, and Chris can hear Alvin and the Chipmunks and Mariah Carey. Everyone is happy.
  3. Santa Claus. That's right. I said I am thankful for Santa. He represents the good in all of us and reminds us of the innocence and imagination of our childhood. The sheer joy he brings to kids and the giggles and squeals of happiness and excitement that follow him everywhere. How could you not love the way Santa makes you feel?
  4. 24-Hour Fitness and Facebook. Yep, my gym and Facebook. I have a love/hate relationship with both. And I don't love them for what they do for me, I love them for what they are doing for others. Facebook started offering "check-ins" whereby you use your smart phone to check-in with the nearest retailer based on your GPS location. 24-Hour Fitness donates $1 to Kaboom (a non-profit to help build kids playgrounds) for every check-in. That's my incentive. They have donated $6 on my behalf this week. That's awesome!
  5. Creativity. But not in an artistic way...I lack that altogether, but I am creative with problem solving, cooking and duct tape. I think I get that from my Grandma Melanie. I don't think of it as a gift until others point out that they would never have thought of that. I am helping a friend create a cookbook so she can survive her allergy diagnosis. I tied my Santa and Reindeer to trees using an old phone cord. Chris didn't get that. He wanted to use curling ribbon. Guess he's never seen a bird build a nest before.
  6. Water. I know. It's basic. But without it I suffer from dry skin and chapped lips. Water is cheaper than any lotion, potion or balm to fix the winter flakes.
  7. Walgreen's Pharmacy. Weird, I know. But with the help of "my" pharmacist, I finally found an inexpensive daily vitamin that doesn't give me a MASSIVE headache. Something about the fillers and transporters. I don't get it, but whatever. It works! Thanks Dan and Nature Made!
  8. Our fireplace. Few things can evoke such simultaneous feelings of calm, love, peace and home as a fire in a fireplace. Even on the worst of days, a fire (of the non-destructive variety) can make me feel whole again.
  9. Bobbi Brown Lip Balm with SPF. I know, I know...I already said water. But this stuff is like lip magic in metal tin. An incredible lip moisturizer with SPF and a hint of gloss without being too shiny. Can't. Live. Without. It. It isn't as cheap as Blistex but it lasts a long time and makes a great gift! Right, Mom?!
  10. You. I am thankful for you! All 8 of you who read my blog (could be more, but only 8 of you "follow" it.). You keep me positive and always have GREAT feedback. Thank you. There's nothing better than blogging knowing that somebody is reading and actually seeks you out and looks forward to what you have to say.