A Quick Update

It is now three hours later since I logged onto the computer and have been spending all this time catching up with everyone.¬† ūüôā¬†

We are having a wonderful vacation.¬† For Christmas dinner hubby and I broke out the good china and had a nice little dinner by candlelight at home.¬† After trying Kim’s cranberry sauce recipe, I will never buy canned cranberry sauce ever again!¬† It was that good!¬† We have been snacking on the leftovers¬†all week.

On Tuesday we drove up to Flagstaff with the dog in tow.¬† There wasn’t as much snow there as last year but it was still so much fun.¬† We ate at a place for lunch called Alpine Pizza which was featured on the Travel Channel not that long ago.¬† I thought it was ok.¬† Nothing to write home about really.¬† Abby enjoyed playing in the snow.¬† There’s so much sniff and dig at when you are a dog.¬† She was one tuckered out pooch by the end of the day.

Apparently we got out of Flagstaff just in the nick of time as they were just blanketed with 2 feet of snow.  The freeway was closed in both directions. 

We finally got a charger for the camera battery and I’m hoping to post some pics we took over the week when I have more time.¬†¬†¬† We first purchased the wrong charger and needed to return it, which we did on Monday.¬† We bought the right one and then lo and behold, I was cleaning the house today and found the one we had originally lost located behind the cushion of the fainting sofa in the Girl-Cave.¬† Isn’t that always the way?¬† I’ve since thrown out the receipt for the charger but kept the packaging.¬† Hopefully they’ll be able to take it back because it wasn’t cheap.

We are joining friends for New Years Eve tomorrow night.¬† They are preparing a formal dinner so this should be fun.¬† I am making Margy’s¬†Grand Marnier truffles and a chocolate stout cake made with Guinness Ale for the event.¬†

We’ve had to break out the winter jackets as of late¬† A cold front has moved through and the temps didn’t get out of the 40s all day.¬† Some places in the valley around Phoenix even got snow today.¬† Not us though.¬† But man, it is cold!¬† I’ll have to remember this when it is 110+ degrees outside.

I wish you all a very happy and safe New Year!  I also look forward to reading your posts as the year progresses.  God bless.

My New Bond Girl Name, Miracles & Other Disasters

Is That A Cookie In Your Pocket?

 I have a new Bond Girl name.  Have you heard?  From now on I shall be referred to as Cookies Galore.  Yeah, you heard me.  Cookies Galore.  After all, I think I earned it.

From 11am to 6pm this past Saturday I did not leave the kitchen.¬† I made Caramel Heavenlies, sugar cookies shaped like trees, sugar cookies shaped like stars and then dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with crushed red & white mints, chocolate truffles, chocolate covered cherry cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, pumpkin spice frosted with cream cheese frosting & sprinkled with nutmeg, ginger snaps and finally, Kim’s Spiced Candied Walnuts.¬†

I filled 15 tins, 2 ghetto-ware containers and 2 plates.  Whew, that was a lot of cookies!  I enjoyed every minute of it though.  I cranked the Christmas tunes and baked.  Its only once a year that I do this but it helps to get me in a Christmas frame of mind.

After all that baking Saturday I plopped down on the fainting sofa in the Girl-Cave and watched TV.¬† As I was doing a drive-by of the channels, I noticed A Miracle on 34th Street was on.¬† In all my years I had never seen it.¬† A very young Natalie Wood plays the daughter of a divorcee¬†that works as an executive at Macy’s Department store in NYC over the holidays.¬† My niece¬†bears an uncanny resemblance to Natalie Wood at that age.¬† So much so that I felt very homesick after watching it.¬† Even the facial expressions were the same.¬† Funny enough even as a teenager my niece¬†still resembles her.¬† Something with the eyes.¬† I’ll have to find a picture of my niece when she was young and post it beside Natalie Woods.¬† Cute cute movie!

Yesterday I worked at the Pantry and got loads of stuff done.  The phones were ringing and there were a lot of items that needed to be stocked.  My husband came down and helped for a while too.

Last night my friend Robert called from Boston.¬† I sometimes don’t know how to help him.¬† He has had a string of dates lately, all bad, and he is very discouraged.¬† He’ll be 44 this summer and he is just beyond ready to settle down and get married.¬†

Last week he called a woman he had met, a 42 year old¬†nurse, and asked her to join him at a holiday party being held this past weekend.¬† She called or texted (can’t remember which) and said she had been very busy (never a good sign) and already had plans to go to a different event.¬† He was disappointed of course.¬† At 1 am Saturday morning he is leaving the party he is at when he receives a drunken text from this woman.¬† She wants to know what he is doing.¬† He calls her and then she explains that she is seeing someone and all.¬† Now I have to ask, why would someone 42 play that sort of¬†game with someone?¬† The hard part is that Robert doesn’t see it this way.¬† He sees it as she must still have an interest in him if she is texting him at all.¬† I explained that it was a game.¬† Thats how some people are.¬† It is quite ridiculous to still be playing those games at this age.

At times I’m brutally honest with him.¬† He’ll tell me things he’s done or said and sometimes I just cringe.¬† He will sometimes get upset with what I have to say but it still doesn’t stop him from calling for advice.¬† And I hope the advice I’m giving is okay.¬† I absolutely adore Robert.¬† I don’t like seeing him being used as a doormat by women who at their age, should really know better.¬† It seems odd at times when I point something out to him, he just can’ t believe it.¬† Most of us learned some of the rules of dating by our teens and twenties.¬† I think Robert has just been out of the loop for a while¬†and has plain forgotten the rules.¬†

After two hours on the phone to Boston, I started to lose my voice.¬† I tried to suggest things like maybe he shouldn’t call as often, or don’t send someone you just met a Facebook friend request –that kind of stuff.¬† Robert likes to over-analyze¬†stuff and I can see sometimes he is driving himself crazy.¬† Funny enough there is a woman who has shown some interest in him.¬† He has not reciprocated this interest so of course she is the one he has been hearing from.¬† My advice to him was to start doing whatever it is he is doing with this woman and apply it to a woman he is interested in.¬† Sounds simple enough, right?¬† Anyways, it was somewhat of an exhausting conversation.¬† I’m not sure if he gets upset because he thinks I’m being a complete witch or because he knows that there may be some truth to what I’m saying.¬† I told him not to worry so much.¬† It’ll happen.¬† Maybe I’ll even be his Best Man someday.¬† He didn’t think that was as funny as I did.

This morning I sent him a text and asked how he was doing.  Then I apologized if I came off as too harsh.  He texted back that my advice was good.  Then he thanked me for being a good friend.  Maybe I am doing something right by him after all.

Our office will be closed until the New Year after tomorrow despite my wishes for one more day.  I do love this time of year but I have to admit one thing: I am tired!  With that, have a great week friends, and I hope each of you finds a little peace within your busy days.

Yours Truly,

Mrs. Cookies Galore

December Bake Quest #2 – Cranberries

Sweet & Sassy Cheese Spread

Taken from the Arizona Republic Sunday Edition, December 2006

¬†Needing a new recipe a few Christmas’ ago for hosting Christmas dinner at our house, I found this one in our local paper.¬† This image is from the actual recipe, hence the crease in it.¬† I was going to make this again over the weekend but just ran out of time.

My husband’s family loves this and they all now serve this year round at their get-togethers.¬† There is something about the sweet-hot combination when also combined with the almond extract and cream cheese becomes quite addictive.¬† Although it has a bite to it, it is not overly spicy.¬† The cream cheese accompanies it well and takes care of some the bite from the pepper.

Without further adieu, I give you my cranberry submission for the month of December.  I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!


  • 1/2 cup of dark or light corn syrup
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of dried¬†cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp of crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract
  • 1 80z package of cream cheese
  • Assorted crackers or crostini

Mix syrup, salt, fruit, almonds and crushed red pepper in a saucepan.  Heat to simmer, stirring to blend all ingredients.  Remove from heat; stir in almond extract.  Let cool to room temperature.  Place cream cheese on a serving plate.  Top with fruit mixture.  Smear on crackers or crostini. 

As a side note, this travels well.  Once the fruit & nut mixture has cooled, place it in a microwave safe container.  It can be later heated up and poured over the cream cheese.  Enjoy!


One Week to Christmas!

¬†It will be another weekend of baking.¬† I’m looking forward to trying Kim’s¬†walnut recipe as well as the home-made¬†cranberry sauce.¬† Yum!¬† Margie also had posted a Grand Marnier Truffle recipe that will be made in time for New Years Eve.¬† I will say one thing about blogging, although I’m not big on cooking, all the recipes that have been posted the past couple of months may make a cook out of me yet!¬† Hubby may have some stiff competition.¬† ūüėȬ† Of course right now he is wondering, ‘where is my wife and what have you done with her?’

Last night I attended a cookie swap at the home of an acquaintance.  With cookies in tow I made my way to the door.  The host and her mother answered.  I was introduced to a few others in attendance.  The host is the same person who had told me about the association she belongs to for people who can trace their lineage back to the Revolutionary War.  I decided last night that I did not want to join this group.  Here is why.  The conversation throughout the night by several individuals tended to be all about who they were related to and what hall was named after Grandpa so & so who did such & such toward the forwarding and advancement for blah, blah, blah.  Many could trace both sides of their families back to that era. 

While I do have one relative from that era I guess I just don’t see what the big deal is.¬†¬†¬†I didn’t fight the damn war at the time and neither did they.¬† Although it is interesting¬†to know one’s family history I certainly wouldn’t wear it like¬†the congressional medal of honor.¬†¬† Its like taking credit for a job you didn’t do.¬† I just don’t get it.¬† After about 10 minutes I was ready to pack up my cookies and head home.¬† There’s only so much of one’s blue blood family history one can take, especially from a veritable stranger.¬† I was tempted to let them know that the food court at M.I.T. was named after a relative of mine and I’m proud because we all enjoy cafeteria food so so much.¬†¬†

I did manage to sit by a¬†very friendly girl and enjoyed chatting with her.¬† I really do need to get out more.¬† After about another 45 minutes or so, and hearing about how another’s 3-year-old¬†wanted diamond earrings¬†for Christmas, I decided to make a break for it.¬†¬†¬†Although I wasn’t uncomfortable with the surroundings I was somewhat bored and obviously annoyed.¬† It’s just a different life.¬†

Well Hubby comes home today!¬† We are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate and I’m hoping we’ll close the office a little early today (fingers crossed).¬† Its grown quite chilly here.¬† The temp says 56 degrees outside.¬† This morning was wonderfully and beautifully foggy with the rising sun filtering in.¬† It just feels like Christmas.¬† The animals were well-behaved¬†and while the Weasely One slept in this morning, Abby and I enjoyed a good game of fetch in the kitchen before I headed off to work.¬†

In addition to baking this weekend, I have a new appetizer recipe to post here regarding cranberries for December’s Bake Quest.¬† I hope you’ll all enjoy it.¬† ūüôā

A Week In The Life

Stormy Weather On The Way

Well it looks like we might get some snow up north after all.  I was really hoping we would.  Now if we could just make it last until after vacation starts that would be so great!  Outside it is threatening rain here.  When you live in an area that barely sees precipitation, rain is a very big deal!   

 Tonight there is a cookie swap on the other end of town that I am scheduled to attend.  Driving in rain here is the equivalent of driving in snow in other places so I will be keeping an eye on the weather all day today.

Hopefully it won’t be too warm today as I’ve left three dozen cookies in my car.¬†

Animals Behaving Badly

My husband and I usually pride ourselves on our well-behaved¬†pets.¬† Abby and the Weasely¬†One, for the most part, have been heading towards sainthood most of their adult lives as far as I’m concerned.¬† This week however, things have taken a dramatic turn and as they are animals I can’t really threaten them with the old ‘Christmas is in one week!¬† Santa is watching everything you do!’¬† Perhaps its karmic payback for the lobster costume Abby was forced to dress in at Halloween?¬† Or perhaps it was the shampoo mohawk I give the Weasely¬†One during bath time?¬† Regardless of the reason it still doesn’t make up for the mischief these two have bestowed upon me the past two weeks.

I arrived home one night to have found that Abby decided to leave me a giant ‘present’ on the throw rug under the coffee table.¬† Now this dog has never had an accident unless she was sick.¬† When I talked to me husband to complain he asked in all seriousness if it really wasn’t the Weasely¬†One who had left me such a generous gift.¬† Turns out the Weasely One had left me her own gift right next to the bed.¬† Thank goodness I turned the light on before heading into the bedroom.¬† Most times I don’t.¬†

So this week two nights in a row I come home and Abby has torn apart two small pumpkins I had in a Fall arrangement in the livingroom.  There are pumpkin seeds all over the rug and chunks of orange scattered about.  This is despite the fact that a whole bag of Christmas themed toys were given to the little ingrate last week.  Then yesterday I wake up and the lights have been dragged off half the tree and there is an ornament on the floor.  The tree incident was most likely done by the Weasely One, as she has had a strange affection towards the tree since we brought it home.  Plus, if it were Abby pulling at the lights, the likelihood of the tree toppling over would have been greater.  Now I ask, dear neighbors, what is up with these pets of mine?


After tomorrow hubby is on vacation for two weeks.¬† Mine starts next Wednesday I think.¬† My boss would like to close on Tuesday but I’m really hoping to have one more day ($) so please keep your fingers crossed for me that we’ll have the business to warrant another day of work.¬† After that I’m off until the New Year.¬† I’m starting to get more excited about it.¬† There’s lot of stuff that still needs to be done around the house.¬† Hubby has been working out of town this week so I can’t even tell you how much I’ve missed him (hopefully that feeling won’t fade by the end of vacation!)

A Calling?

I’ve been looking into doing some volunteer work in another country and have inquired about going to Chile.¬† Today I received an email regarding a possible trip there working among the Mapuche Indians.¬† To be honest I will be scared to death, especially if I end up going by myself but I’ve felt its something that would be so worth the experience.¬† So please think good thoughts for me on this as I try to figure out if 1.) I should really go, and 2.) that if I do decide to go that everything necessary for the trip will fall into place.¬† I already talked to my husband and he is okay with it.¬† I’m trying to get him to go too as he works in construction and his skills could be very useful.¬† Anyways, just putting it out there.

Funny, when I searched for the above picture I got an image of Bill Gates.¬† Is there anything that man hasn’t had his finger in? ūüėČ

Sizzle Sizzle Went The Tree

Early Sunday morning I got up, plugged in the lights to the Christmas tree and then poured myself a cup of coffee.¬† While standing in front of the tree, still in my p.j.s, I started to hear a sizzling sound.¬† Was it the coffee maker?¬† I listened carefully.¬† The coffee maker was indeed making a sizzling sound where I had just dripped a bit onto the hot plate of the coffee maker while pouring a cup, but this wasn’t it.¬†

I leaned my head in carefully and realized that this was a separate sound.¬† The tree was actually making a sizzling sound.¬† My first thought was that a light had overheated and must be burning a branch.¬† I immediately unplugged the tree and stood listening.¬† Nothing appeared to be burning.¬† I couldn’t smell anything and there wasn’t any smoke.¬† I had envisioned myself dragging the tree quickly through the garage while wearing oven mits and then throwing it into the street while hosing it down with the garden hose, all while still dressed in my pajamas.¬†

The coffee maker continued to make the sizzling sound and for a moment there I thought, okay, I’m losing my mind.¬† The coffee maker and the tree are communicating with each other in some¬†bizarro language.¬† Yeah, I’d be a real nutter(as Bettina would say) to think that!¬† ūüėȬ†

Hubby came in from getting the newspaper and I called him over to hear this sound.¬† Luckily it was still as loud as ever.¬† “What the heck is that,” I asked him.¬† It sounded like it was ready to self-combust.¬† We could only surmise that it was the sap running through the trunk and branches.¬† The heat was on in the house and the morning sun was coming in the windows.¬† Alas, another mystery is solved in the Monsoon household.¬† I’ve listened in a few times and the sound has stopped.¬† In all my Christmases I don’t think I’ve ever heard that from a tree before.

Southwest Christmas Activities

 It finally feels like Christmas.  This is despite the fact that temps have been in the low 80s for the past couple of days. 

Saturday I met Athletica for lunch and then we did the last of our Christmas shopping.¬† This was followed up by frozen strawberry margaritas at a bar in the same shopping plaza.¬† Where most of my shopping is done online, I had forgotten about things like traffic and¬†long check-out¬†lines.¬† My Christmas cards are all written so thinking I’d be saving myself some time, I went to the post office inside the Hallmark store.¬† Apparently many folks decided to do this as well.¬† By the time I got to the front of the line¬†there was a sign that read ‘No Debit or Credit Cards.’¬† Now in this day in age, who the heck doesn’t accept plastic?¬† Just thought that bizarre.¬†

Hubby and I picked out a great tree over at The Home Depot Saturday night.¬† Being the overprotective ferret and dog Mom I refuse to pick up the toxic stuff that you put into the base of the tree to keep it fresh longer.¬† This, in the long run proved to be a wise idea.¬† We picked up a pizza then headed home with the tree strapped down to the roof of my SUV.¬† Hubby set the tree up in the window of our kitchen and then helped me with the lights.¬† While we don’t have a whole lot of ornaments I’d have to say that the finished product wasn’t too shabby.¬†¬† While rooting around in the garage for Christmas paraphernalia, I ended up finding two ornaments that were purchased on a trip to Alaska almost three years ago.¬† This is the first year they’ve donned a tree.¬† It was nice to have that memory and also a nice surprise to find them, like finding a $20 bill in your pocket.

This is one of the ornaments that was purchased the weekend before last at the Mexican pottery shop.  There was a whole basket filled with these brightly colored hand-painted eggs.  I thought they were made of wood but unfortunately I found out they were made out of ceramic when one accidentally fell off the tree and onto the hard tiled floor.

This is one of the few terra cotta angels I also got at the pottery shop.  I like the color of it against the green tree.

This particular one is made out of a hollowed out gourd.¬† It has the skeleton figures in it which are traditional to the Mexican celebration, ‘The Day of the Dead’ or Dia de los Muertos.¬† While some might think it morbid to hand something like this on a tree at Christmas time, I look at it as those in my family that have gone before me will be in my mind over Christmas.¬† Just my thoughts.¬† Okay, enough with the sappy stuff.¬† On to more ornaments!

This is one of my favorites.  It was purchased at the Desert Museum in Tucson on the day I met Maureen.  Can you see the bird carved into it?

And lastly, here is one more.  This is also made out of terra cotta and then hand-painted.  While hubby is not wild about the idea of skeletons on the tree, how could you not like this little guy?  Alright, maybe its just me.

Yesterday afternoon I got down to the business of baking.¬† I make dozens of different cookies this time of year to pack into tins for gifts.¬† In a course of about 4 hours I created fudge nut balls which¬†I’ve renamed truffles,¬†double chocolate biscotti and peanut butter cookies.¬† I had started on sugar cookies but grew tired.¬† The dough is still in the fridge so that may be a project for some night this week.¬†¬† My soundtrack for baking was the Charlie Brown Christmas CD performed by The Vince Guaraldi Trio.

(I was trying to insert in here a youtube video of one of the Charlie Brown songs but can’t remember who to do it.)