Thursday, December 31, 2009


Well we certainly had a nice and blessed Christmas. We hope you did as well! I am very grateful to Rick who has been working his tail off over the holidays, as he does every year. He is looking forward to getting back to normal hours here after this weekend. He's only really had one day off in the last 2 weeks and that was Christmas day, and with all the family activities etc, it really isn't much of a day off to relax. I am just grateful to have such a hardworking husband to provide for us, I love you Rick!
Anyways, on to our celebrations!
Christmas Eve Rick had to work so in the evening we headed down to Salem to celebrate with his family. Peggy wanted to take a family picture so we took a few. They only turned out okay I think. I think family pictures always look better outside. Not only that, but since we took it in the hallway, we couldn't get get any further back so there isn't a lot of depth. I guess I should stop beating myself up over it. It is what it is!
Another one, this time with Granny
The girls get their pictures taken by the tree every year. They like to get it over with so they can change into comfy clothes :)
Aren't they cute?
Miss Riley by the tree
Sister pics!
Uncle Ricky butting in!
Present time!
I gave Riley one of my older cameras, because I got a new one. She didn't care that it was used, she is thrilled as you can see :)
Rick's cute Grandma, Vesta
Kailey and a new shirt
Dick checking out Riley's present
Riley and her sweet Hannah Montana makeup kit
Rick & I
We had Christmas morning here at our house this year. We usually have Christmas Eve with my family, but since Rick's family does theirs on Christmas Eve, we moved ours to Christmas morning. I don't know if I ever remember a Christmas without my Aunt, but this year she spent her Christmas down in Salem with her boyfriend and his family so she was definitely missed this year. We had a nice brunch with good food and good company, and even though our house is very tiny to have many guests, we crammed a table in the living room and it worked out!
My mom testing my new camera with a pic of Rocco and I
Cookie sneaker!
My Mom and Dad (we had to put our loveseat in the kitchen to make room for our Christmas tree!)
Rick and my Grandma
Our tree
Rick & Rocco
Rick and I have made it a tradition to go to the Blazer game every year on Christmas day. This year was our third in a row. One of Rick's employee's sisters is dating a guy in the NBA, who's brother plays for Denver, so we somehow finangled player's seats. They were awesome seats and it was a action packed, really fun game!
Go Blazers!
And that's it for Christmas!
We are headed up to the mountain this afternoon to spend New Years' in a cabin with some friends. We are both really looking forward to it. We hope you all have a safe and happy New Years' Eve. I can't believe tomorrow is 2010!! A whole new decade to look forward to!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lemon Bar Cupcakes


Shortbread base:
3/4 C. unsalted butter
2 C. flour
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

1 box lemon cake mix
1/3 C. veg. oil
1 1/3 C. water
3 eggs
1 jar lemon curd

Lemon cream cheese frosting:
4 oz. butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon rind, grated
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 F
Shortbread: Cut butter into 1/2 inch pieces. In food processor process all shortbread ingredients until mixture forms small lumps. Spoon a heaping spoon full of shortbread into cupcake paper liners, then pat down firmly with fingers.

Cupcakes: Make cake according to box. Spoon into cupcake cups, fill almost to the top. Place 1 tbsp. lemon curd on top of each. Bake according to the box. (I went 19ish mins)

Frosting: Beat all frosting ingredients until smooth. (I needed slightly more than the 2 tbsp of lemon juice to make it a better consistency).

Notes: this made 29 cupcakes for me, but the frosting only frosted 25. Also, this was way more shortbread than I needed. I used more than half of it, but definitely not all of it. The idea is the shortbread base forms a crust on the bottom, the lemon curd sinks and becomes a lemony goo inside the cupcake, on top of the crust, so don't be afraid to put that whole tbsp in there. I went slightly under and I wish I had done more. They turned out delicious though! You could also put some yellow food coloring in the frosting to make it prettier. Happy baking!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Minestrone Soup

  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1/2 pound small rigatoni
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3/4 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 12 slices baguette
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Combine the stock and halved garlic head in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste; strain out the garlic. Keep warm.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni.

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the side of a big spoon until well browned. Chop the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.

To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone. Drain and stir into the simmering soup. Add the parsley, and salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Deck of the Halls

Every year our friends Jen & Dylan Hall have a Christmas party called Deck of the Halls. This was the 5th one so they decided to have everyone dress up for the event. It was last weekend and as usual, it was a lot of fun!
Oh, and Rick and I already got our Christmas presents. Mine is a new digital camera :) Here is the first picture taken with it, our Christmas tree!
Anyway, also new at the Deck of the Halls party was an award show! They handed out trophies for perfect attendance and most inappropriate gift. The giant trophy in the center was for someone who had done something to stand out in a big way over the past year.
Alison, Amber and Misty F. looking pretty in their dresses
Rick and I. He cleans up nicely don't you think?
Jen showing off the new banner
The Hall's Christmas tree and all the white elephant gifts
Emily & Brandon Martine-new this year at the party (Brandon is one of Rick's 2 assistant managers)
Dylan starting the awards portion of the night

So the people up for the giant trophy had done some amazing things this year-such as getting engaged, getting married, getting degrees etc. All really impressive things. Yet, somehow Rick and I won it! We won it for living in a motorhome all those months! Looks like it paid off after all! Now, where are we going to store that ginormous trophy until next year?!
Kaare, Ethan, Brent and Bill ready to start the gift exchange
Jen's gift was 2 pairs of "Mom jeans" that she and Amber got at the beach a few years back. Hilarious that Jen ended up with them!
Rick ended up with a slap chop! Sweet! I can't wait to use it! I HATE chopping onions with all my heart! My gift was lame and inappropriate, so it doesn't get a picture. I didn't even bring it home with me.
our traditional group shot! Love it!
Rick and I all fancied up!
A shot of just the girls. I don't really know the girl on the right, she didn't think she needed to dress up and she sticks out like a sore thumb!
Rick's Christmas present is a new DJ machine. He loves it! He did all the music for the party all night and kept everyone dancing til 2am!
A cute one of Misty, Kerri and Faith
Jen and Dylan put a red carpet outside and we took turns posing on it. Here's one of a few of us girls, but you can't see the darn red carpet! Oh well :)
Jen and I cuddled up :)
Later in the night Amber and I decided it would be hilarious to put on the Mom jeans and show off our dance moves. They were made even better looking by tucking our dresses inside!
We had Jen cracking up pretty good over the pants
Dylan was mad that Rick stole the slapchop from him, and wanted to see how well it worked
Jen and Kaare at the end of the night
It was a really fun party! I can't believe Christmas is only 10 days! I am almost done with shopping, just have 2 very small things to get, and then some stocking stuffers for Rick. I have been loving my time off from school! I went and saw Invictus last weekend and Fantastic Mr. Fox last night. Both movies were great, I recommend them both. Other than that I've been catching up on some TV, and spending lots of couch cuddle time with Penny and Rocco. This week I am tackling cleaning the house. My goal is to deep clean a room a day to make it easier. We are having Christmas morning here with my family so I need to get the cleaning out of the way so I can spend some time baking and cooking! Hope you are enjoying the holidays so far!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More birthdays!

Last weekend we celebrated two more birthdays! And oddly enough, both of them are Jennifers.
At Saucebox for Jenn Cloud's birthday
Liz, Jenn and I
And afterward we went and saw one of Rick's favorite DJ's-Matt Darey
Then Saturday we went to Rockaway Beach to spend the rest of the weekend with Jen Hall for her 30th. She and Dylan rented a really cool house right on the beach so a group of us went. It was an amazing location, and the weather was gorgeous, except that it was FREEZING!
Saturday night, serenading Jen
I made Jen 2 apple pies for her birthday. I guess she likes it better than cake!
Blowing out her candles
Hanging out Sunday morning
Jen, Misty F. and David
The view from our deck
Twin Rocks
The cute little house
Cap'n Rick
The girls walking on the beach
Rick and I all bundled up
It was really windy, you can see the blowing sand
Us ladies
Alison, Amber, Misty F., Jen, me and Misty K.
Another one with the rocks
The boys-Rick, Dylan and David-minus Bill who was still sleeping
The birthday girl and Dylan

Thanks again for inviting us Halls, what a great place!
Well, I'm finally all caught up on pictures I think! Hooray! Finals are over with, and I'm thrilled! I now have three and a half weeks to clean my house, catch up on sleep, finish Christmas shopping, watch everything on my DVR, see friends and enjoy the holidays with no stress. I love it!
Its still freezing here. In fact yesterday morning we had no hot water so I had to stick our oil heater outside in our hot water heater closet to melt the pipes. Thank goodness we remedied the issue the right way. I heard that people's pipes were bursting left and right all over town. Sadly, I know three people that had problems. Our friends Kerri and Ethan rent their house and they signed something saying they'd do some certain thing in the cold, and they didn't, so they're responsible for their damage. My friend Stephine came home to her condo last night to find it filled with water and everything ruined. Luckily, she has insurance, but her 7 year old daughter is pretty devastated to lose all her books and toys right before Christmas. So, I am feeling very lucky and grateful that we didn't have more of an issue. That would have really upset me after all the issues we had to go through this last year due to plumbing/mold problems.
Anyway, hope you are all staying warm. Love, Lauren