I should be sleeping instead of blogging

The children will not go for a ride in the car tomorrow. Mary, poor Mary, is especially sick of traveling.

There are some things I miss about New Jersey. Traffic is not one of them.

It was nice today to go to Mass at our old parish and have friendly faces and warm hugs to greet us. Hard to believe we left nearly five years, and two kids, ago.

Also nice to visit extended family we haven’t seen for a while, especially now that there are second cousins for our kids to play with. The littlest one, still a few months away from age three, loved Katie’s sparkly “princess” dress – Katie loves it too. And because Jenny was wearing a dark blue gingham dress, the girl decided her name must be Dorothy. Too bad Jenny doesn’t have any ruby red slippers.

I wonder how many late nights these kids can tolerate. Or how many I can tolerate.

Christmas Memories

This Christmas, I am very grateful to have my husband home. I know that there are many readers of this blog who are not as lucky, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers.

If you feel the need to have a sharp knife piercing your heart, check out this video: Bring Him Home Santa.

Six years ago, Bill was not home for Christmas. It was a bad holiday. Back then, I wrote about what it was like, and a few years ago, I posted that memory on my blog. I’ve come a long way in six years, and would like to think that things wouldn’t be as bad now that I have children who are older and more helpful. I’m not sure, though. Older children have different ways of making life difficult.

If Santa didn’t bring your soldier home this Christmas, I sincerely hope that the rest of his deployment goes quickly for you. And if you have no deployed soldier in your life, try to say a prayer today for those who can not fully experience the joy of Christmas, especially the children.

Comfort Food

Day 1: The Warrior Returneth Edition

Filet Mignon (rare) with a peppery marinade
Baked Potatoes

Guinness (Vitamin G)

Really. Does good eating get any better than this?

Day 2: The Snowbound Edition

Beef and Pepper Stew
Homemade Rolls
Spaten Oktoberfest (because the Guinness ran out)

On the way to church (we luckily had a plowed road), one of the kids shouted from the back, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Are mine the only ones who think of dinner from the moment they awake?

“Beef stew,” said I. I looked at my husband. “Does that sounds good?”

He nodded with a very satisfied expression. Oh, yeah.

Day 3: The Stuck in Traffic Edition

Valentino’s New York Style Pizza
Arrogant Bastard Ale (Bill liked it, but it didn’t go very well with the pizza)

Good NY style pizza is hard to find in Northern Virginia. If you like this style, this place won’t disappoint. If you don’t like NY style, then go to Pizza Hut instead.

Day 4: The Nod to “Health” Edition

Crunchy Oven-Baked Chicken

I made oven baked sweet potato chips, but I’m not 100% happy with the recipe. I’ll try another one next time.

Some different beer. Bill went to Total Wine and picked up a variety (yes, his favorite beer store is a wine store).

I feel guilty if I make beef every day. I don’t know why, exactly. Modern nutritional wisdom says that too much red meat is bad for you, but I truly believe that this is not a one-size-fits-all rule for good health. I have no problems with cholesterol and Bill’s issues stem from flour and pasta, not beef. I do like chicken, but I definitely serve more beef as a general rule. This chicken recipe is moist and juicy and yummy, making eating chicken a delight.

Day 5: The Date Night Edition

I think the kids had chicken strips (from the frozen foods section). Bill and I went to a place called Ray’s the Steaks. Yum.

We had Filet Mignon (see Day 1).

Day 6: The Christmas Eve Edition

French Onion Soup
Salmon with Leeks

I’m too tired to type recipes. I love my French Onion Soup. I make it with vegetable broth, because Christmas Eve used to be a day of abstinence from meat. The salmon recipe was new this year, and it was tasty, but… I rarely cook with leeks. The recipe said to wash them thoroughly. I rinsed them thoroughly. No, no, no. You have to wash them. I guess when they grow, the sandy soil gets inside. If you don’t wash them well, your food will be gritty. This is not pleasant. The flavor was good, so I will have to make it again. (Fortunately, the leeks could be pushed aside and the salmon was fine.)

Day 7: The Christmas Day Edition

Overnight Christmas Blueberry-Pecan French Toast

This breakfast dish is too decadent to eat regularly. I usually make it for Christmas and Easter. The kids don’t like it (fools), so I finally halved the recipe this year, and it was the perfect amount for breakfast today and tomorrow. The full recipe for two people just lingers way too long to be healthy.

Most Christmases are just us hanging out. Between the candy canes and the eggnog, nobody is really interested in a full sit down meal. Instead, we eat snacky foods: cheese and crackers, shrimp cocktail, leftover yummy French Onion Soup.

Hard to believe, but my husband has been home for a week now. We head up to PA and NJ tomorrow, and the food will be out of my hands for a bit. When we get back, I’ll be making him Cowboy Chili and Kells Guinness Meatballs.

And more Filet Mignons.

Called out on the carpet

My sister called me yesterday to tease me about yesterday’s post.

“Candy? Carols? What happened to the penitential season of Advent?”

“I’ve been doing penance for 6 months,” I protested.

“And, seriously, you didn’t leave him any shopping to do for you?”

“He wasn’t supposed to be home until the 28th!”

“You are going to bake cookies, right?” Not having Christmas cookies is a mortal sin in our world.

“Good grief, woman! I’ll get to it. Eventually.”

Mental note: little sisters scrutinize blog posts more harshly than the average reader.