Friday, December 27, 2013

Peppermint Pretzels

Way back in 2008, my sister Emily arrived at Trevor’s birthday party with the most wonderful and delicious Christmas candies I had ever consumed!!! 

“I must know how to make these!!!”  I yelled with a mouth full of chocolate coated pretzels!

And so, for the last five years at Christmas time, I have made batch after batch of delicious Peppermint Pretzels! My co-workers demand them and even provide funding for these delicious treats.

Without further ado,  the method to making perfect Peppermint Pretzels!

Start by thoroughly washing your hands (nobody likes germs on their Christmas snacks) and start unwrapping a TON of the Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses. 



When I say a ton, I literally mean a TON.  When you think you have enough, unwrap another bag. 

Be careful not to get the aluminum from the wrapper in the bowl of unwrapped kisses… this will end up melting in the oven and someone will inevitably bite into it. (I usually keep a bowl for the unwrapped kisses and a separate bowl for the wrappers).

Now that you have watched a movie or two and your fingertips smell like peppermint, turn your oven on and break out the cookie sheets! A lot of the time I make these while I am also baking cookies, so my oven is already hot and around 350 degrees.

Line up bite size pretzels on the cookie sheet, making sure none of them overlap.  I use Rold Gold pretzels. 



I have used the “store brands” and tried other brands too, but I finally decided I don't care how much they cost; the Rold Gold pretzels taste the best!!!



Each pretzel then gets a kiss placed in the middle.  Cute, right?



Don’t be a klutz like me and rattle the cookie sheet on your way to the oven… they end up melting on the cookie sheet and making a mess!





Leave the cookie sheet in the oven until the kisses start to melt and look glossy – they will still hold the kisses shape, so don’t let them get too hot, or the tops will start to burn.




Remove the sheet from the oven and IMMEDIATELY push a Christmas M&M on top.  This makes the kiss melt over the rest of the pretzel. Yum.





I usually wait a minute or two for the cookie sheet to return to room temperature, and then I stick the whole pan in my freezer to let the candy harden.  I have tried skipping this step and just letting them sit at room temperature, but they stay too gooey and are terribly difficult to package.  Putting the sheet in the freezer for ten minutes or so makes the whole process so much easier!



Ta-da!  Delicious and festive Peppermint Pretzels.



Merry Christmas, everyone! 


Monday, December 23, 2013

Time... I need some.

There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish what I want to do.  This holiday season has simply flown by, and I haven’t even baked a single batch of cookies!  Lame.

Luckily, I had a really good jump start on Christmas shopping, and I had almost all of it completed by Thanksgiving.  I even took a “pledge” to have everything finished, so I could sit back and enjoy the entire month of December with some baking and a few adult beverages.  Needless to say, I failed miserably and I am still trying to get everything done, but it was so great to have a list to check off and a schedule to keep me on track.



OCD table for one, please!

The Christmas Pledge can be found HERE at the Art of Doing Stuff – seriously, Karen is amazing, and next year I am sold on this idea!

Karen's recap was hilarious:

    

Houston and I were gone for Thanksgiving weekend, and my tree didn’t go up on Black Friday like normal (it hung out in the box until the 8th – ugh) and stressing about my French final on the 11th, seriously cut into my holiday cheer.  But I got an “A” in the class, so Merry Christmas to me!



So, Christmas really started on the 14th this year, and that is simply not enough time to enjoy the lights, cookies and reason for the season.  Two weekends.  That. Is. It. [sad face]

Get yourself in check, Elise.  Stop complaining, and start celebrating!!!

I am going to soak up the next 48 hours and enjoy every second!!!

On our first date, Houston and I had dinner at the Mission Inn and then we walked around outside on the LAST day of the Festival of Lights – downtown Riverside is decked out in lights and holiday cheer from Black Friday through the new year. Last year we were so busy that we never made it out to see the lights.  This year we went on Friday after work and had a wonderful time, eating mini donuts and kettle corn and soaking up some time together enjoying the lights and fun little shops!








I have the BEST.BOYFRIEND.EVER.  Houston took me to see not one, but TWO Disney movies in one month.  Frozen was super cute, and Saving Mr. Banks had me laughing and crying. – Tom Hanks was INCREDIBLE! 



Yes, I am a complete Disney spaz and that will never change. – Good thing Houston thinks it is cute!


[so true, right???]



One too many trips to Target in a month and I start playing leap-frog in the parking lot.  Note: I am definitely not as young, flexible or athletic as I used to be – this resulted in a gnarly purple bruise on my knee.


And now, I am off to bake some Christmas cookies... FINALLY!



Monday, December 16, 2013

Thankful For Everything, Even Metrolink Trains

I truly have so much to be thankful for.

I just got home after a long day at work (I am convinced the clock was broken and did not move for a good chunk of an hour today) and then running errands in the MESS that is California at Christmas time - the clock is moving too fast now, so much to do and so little time!

However, I am thankful.

I am thankful for the job I have (even when the work day draggggggs by).

I am thankful for the ability to go out into the sea of crazies and be able to spend money on my loved ones.

I am thankful for Jesus - we are celebrating His birthday, after all.

I am thankful for the little things... like my warm cozy bed - I can't wait to lay my tired head down tonight.

I am thankful to be done at RCC and beginning a (scary) new chapter at CBU.

I am thankful for Houston.  So, so, so very thankful.


[Our Thanksgiving photo - the first Thanksgiving we were able to spend together]

Today, December 16th is the "anniversary" of the day Houston and I met. On the Metrolink train.  Yes, miracles do happen.

Our first meeting went something like this:

Houston: "No fella would ever carry a coupon binder..." [I was clipping coupons]
Elise: "Excuse me, you who's name I don't know... you can mind your own business."
-pause-
Elise: "What's your name anyway?"
Houston: HOUSTON
Elise: "Ooooh, Houston is too good for coupons..."

And so, the journey began.

I am thankful he thought I was quirky and funny and still wanted to talk to me. Apparently my man knew something that day that I didn't, and I am so thankful he stuck around long enough for me to figure it out.




Saturday, December 7, 2013

God Bless America

Freedom is a beautiful thing.  

I may not always agree with the decisions made by individuals representing my state or country, but I am deeply grateful that I am able to express that opinion without fear of retaliation.  I can walk down the street carrying my Bible and not be charged as a religious offender.  I can travel about the country when and wherever I would like without being accused of being a spy.  I can live life, enjoy it, and greatly appreciate it.

Are you thankful for freedom here in America?  Do you need a way to show that appreciation?

Houston and I headed out to the Riverside National Cemetery on the Saturday before Veteran’s Day to help put a flag on each headstone and to be thankful for the wonderful men and women who have served (and are currently serving) our country.  We helped do this on Memorial Day HERE as well. 




It is very rewarding to do such a small act of service for those who served our country so greatly. 

“A Flag For Every Hero” almost reached its goal this Veteran’s Day – almost every grave had a flag. 



Please follow “A Flag For Every Hero” on Facebook HERE and please plan on coming out to help place flags on the next holiday.  

It is such a wonderful sight to see families, boy and girl scout troops, and even babies participating and learning to respect those whom have willingly put their lives on the line so that we don't have to. 


It only takes an hour or so out of your day to help; so, won’t you?

HERE is a May 17, 2013 article from the Press Enterprise.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Look Ma, We're On TV! - Anniversary Edition

Last month, Houston and I celebrated our one year dating anniversary – crazy, I know!  Time really does fly by when you’re having fun.  Case and point: My blog post is a month behind.  Ugh.

Since our actual anniversary fell on a Monday and we both had to work and I had class until eight o’clock, we decided we would both take the day off on Friday to celebrate.  I ordered tickets to see a taping of the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson – and Houston and I drove to the CBS studios in LA to participate.  We actually saw a double taping. It was fun and exhausting – my throat was raw from yelling and my hands were bright red from clapping.  Look look, we were on TV!   



Tickets are available through 1iota tickets  - HERE.  They  also provide the tickets for The Voice, Jimmy Kimmel, The Queen Latifah Show, and some other East Coast tapings.  The site is super easy, just sign up and request tickets.  Then you will be on the waitlist and eventually receive an email when you can claim them; confirm you still want them and print!  Easy peasy!  The website encourages you to only confirm tickets if you are actually going to show up – you don’t show up, they have empty seats to fill and you probably won’t be able to get tickets in the future. 

So we had a fun day together and it was relatively inexpensive; we had to pay for parking at The Grove and gas to get to LA, but I think that is pretty reasonable for a couple hours of fun entertainment.

After the show we walked around the Farmer’s Market located next to The Grove [click link HERE and let the page load for a minute].  Seriously, if you ever go shopping out there, skip the lame Cheesecake Factory and all the other chain restaurants and get some delicious food from one of the vendors in the Farmer’s Market.  Houston and I got cheeseburgers from Charlie’s Coffee Shop. Wow. Wow. WOW!  Houston was in burger heaven.  I love that we find so much joy in just being together and eating a great cheeseburger.




[Seriously, look at that thing!]


There was so many amazing booths at the Farmer’s Market – a meat counter serving up Harris Ranch Beef, which is only USDA Prime (wowza), an ice cream stand with $7 milkshakes (we didn’t get one, but man they looked good), a shop of hot sauce (yes, an entire store of hot sauce), and a super cute French grocery store.  Bonjour!  

Ok, so now for the cheesy part:

I am so very lucky to have this man I call mine.  He is intelligent and creative and most of all he makes me feel wanted and cherished – that is kinda a big deal.  It has been a wild first year together, full of vacations, busy weekends, life changes and growth.  He loves me despite the fact that I just do not love seafood (bizarre, I know) and that I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about when he talks about computers with me.  He brings out the best in me, and he politely disregards when I am behaving less like a lady and more like a crazy person (this lady needs sleep and turns into a monster when sleep deprived).  He is handsome and funny and I love him dearly.  Here’s to many more wonderful years together, Houston, my love. 




Saturday, November 30, 2013

Well hello there...

What a whirlwind 15 weeks this semester has been!  I have just finished recovering from a belly full of turkey and I am currently enjoying not having to work or attend class for a whole 3 days!  Hallelujah!

So what was the biggest news that happened in the last 60 days? 

I applied and was accepted to CBU!  



I looked into applying elsewhere, but all signs pointed back to CBU and after a bunch of praying, I called and began the enrollment process.  I start class on January 6th.  It is going to be a pretty big challenge, but then again, no one ever achieved greatness by taking the easy way out.  Graduating in 2016 sounds like a lifetime away right now, but I am sure the time will fly by and be over before I know it.

Houston and I still managed to squeeze in some fun activities in between my studying and our work schedules:

Neither of us had ever been to the LA County Fair, so we went. We ate. We ate some more.  Yes, the maple bacon donut is artery clogging deliciousness.




We went to see the Dodgers play one last time before they headed into the World Series – too bad they couldn’t pull it together and win it!




We finally used the tickets to Catalina from Valentine’s Day.  It was a lovely day just walking around together and exploring Catalina.  We played mini golf and had a delicious lunch, but my favorite thing was standing on the end of the pier watching a HUGE pelican beg for scraps from the fishermen. 
Suggestions: take the Catalina Express from Long Beach, it has more departure times than the one from Newport.









We drove down to San Diego the weekend before Halloween and went to an amazing pumpkin patch with the Wilsons! – Seriously, this place rivals Oak Glen.  Bates Nut Farm had a tractor ride, petting zoo, bounce house, a complete row of junk food booths (cotton candy, lemonades, kettle corn, etc.)… it was awesome, and it was so much fun to see Henry run around exploring! I took the opportunity to practice using the DSLR with some help from Houston – I still have a lot to learn about the settings.





We carved pumpkins [Houston carved ours, and I took photos] back at the Wilsons.  I know San Diego is only two hours away, but I sure wish we all lived closer to each other.  I just adore Henry – his giggles are infectious. 




Leah and Justin joined us on Halloween to pass out the 50 pounds of candy I had purchased.  LITERALLY, $100 worth of candy – I only paid $40 with my coupons, of course.  Because Metrolink was running late (as usual) most of the kids had already hit up the neighborhood before we got home and we had WAY more candy than we needed... We were yelling on the street “Candy, we have more candy!!!” 





I had the great opportunity to take photos at Leah’s baby shower.  Leah looked absolutely beautiful and her baby bump was darling.  I had a blast taking pictures at her sister Summer’s house, even if it was challenging – her beautiful home is mid-century modern and has a window on practically every wall – talk about shadows and weird lighting.  The party was beautifully decorated by Summer and Karon (Leah’s sister and mom). Here is the link to Summer’s blog post for the other party details.  I have always loved taking pictures; there was a time in my life when I would save all of my allowance money to pay for film and developing (ha! Yes, I am that old) and my heart burst with joy when I saw some of the pictures from the shower on my computer.  I’m no professional, but I think this will be a hobby I always love.








More updates to come later... My French final is in 12 days, to be finished will be très incroyable!