Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time...

... of the year. Christmas truly is my favorite time of the year... yes, when I was younger, it was all about the presents, but now that I'm more mature and over that aspect (my parents should be laughing by now) - it means so much more. It only took Charlie 45 minutes or so to tear through his piles of presents, but I could (and gladly would) have sat there all day watching the delight in his eyes as he discovered each gift... and I know that having little Charlie around was all the present "Great-Granny Lum" needed. Moments like these with my family really reinforce the true meaning and miracles of Christmas. Some notes... for those in the 14-month age-range... wood puzzles and shape sorters (you know what this is if you're a parent) are huge hits. And, thanks to some family friends, the DeNiros, we got to meet the latest Tickle Me Elmo today; he's hilarious if you're into waiting in long lines to find out that they are sold out or hounding eBay auctions.

Many things have changed in the past year or so since Charlie waltzed into our lives... including the disappearance of my family's annual Christmas night dessert party... but there is one tradition that held fast - my mom's Fresh Strawberry Trifle.

Strawberry Trifle

1 c sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
2 TBSP butter
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In saucepan, heat milk and butter till butter melts; keep hot. In mixer, beat whole eggs on high speed til thick and lemon-colored, about 3 min. Gradually add sugar, beating constantly at medium speed for 4-5 min. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture; stir til just blended. Stir in hot milk and vanilla; blend well. Turn into 2 greased and floured 8 inch round cake pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 min or until cake is done. Cool in pans 10 min. Remove cakes and cool on racks.

Custard and Strawberry Filling
1/4 c sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 c milk
2 beaten egg yolks
1 TBSP butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c whipping cream
2 pints fresh strawberries
3 TBSP sugar
Strawberry or Orange liqueur
Powdered sugar

In saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the milk. Cook and stir over med high heat until thickened and bubbly. (Stir constantly; do not let milk scald) Then stir a small amount of hot mixture into beaten egg yolks. Return to mixture in pan, stirring constantly. Cook 2 min more. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cover surface of pudding with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Chill. Later, whip the whipping cream; fold into chilled pudding. Set aside some strawberries for garnish; crush remaining berries and stir in sugar.

To assemble: Split cake layers in half to make 4 layers. Fit 1 layer into bottom of trifle dish; spread 1 c berries over. Top with second cake layer. Sprinkle cake with liqueur. Spread with all of the pudding. Place third cake layer on top; spread remaining berries over. Sprinkle cut side of fourth cake layer with liqueur; place cake, cut side down, on top of berries in dish. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, sift a heavy covering of powdered sugar over the top.

In the end, I have finally learned that no matter what your traditions are, and upheld or not, all that matters is the love that you give to family and friends... and that you remember the real reason for the Season.


Monday, December 18, 2006

The Thompsons!

As it was said in one of the toasts during their wedding... "I'm so happy that one of my best friends has found her best man". That's how I felt this weekend watching Katie marry the man of her dreams!
What a magical weekend! Katie and Scott, with her mom behind the scenes ensuring that things run smoothly, went full-force with the Christmas theme, and it was absolutely perfect.

The bridesmaids enjoyed a delicious luncheon at the Green Valley Grill in Greensboro and celebrated at the rehearsal dinner at Tuscany Gardens Friday evening. Saturday morning a few of us joined the bride while she got her hair done, and then started getting ready, ourselves, for the ceremony and reception.
Any presents for the newlyweds were left under a beautiful Christmas tree and everyone received an ornament to commemorate the occasion! My personal favorite, aside from the glowing couple, were the cakes, all wrapped up like presents. After an evening to remember, the couple was whisked away... heading for Jamaica as Mr. and Mrs. Thompson!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Almost Celebration

In the spirit of Alice in Wonderland (and the Un-birthday), we had our own little celebration last night... in honor of Chris being Almost Done with what has become the class he has least enjoyed during his part-time MBA adventure (or so I like to call it).

For the occasion, I attempted one of Chris' favorites... chicken Pad Thai... and it turned out pretty well! Given that this was my inaugural effort (since Andrea and I long ago took a Thai cooking class), I gladly took the help of a package of noodles and sauce, but gave it some additional flare. Egg and chicken are obvious. Not to be forgotten were the crushed peanuts. Chopped cilantro and scallions gave it great fresh color. And for garnish... a wedge or two of lime and a sprig of cilantro.

I'll definitely keep improving on this recipe since it was surprisingly quick and easy!

So... CONGRATS to Chris for finishing the nightmare that Finance has been - and not a second too soon. And, thanks for providing an excuse to try my hand at Pad Thai!

Monday, December 11, 2006

'Tis the Season!

Even though this Christmas season has been more rushed than usual, being gone almost every weekend for two months straight, we managed to ring in the holidays this past weekend... though, don't mistake that to mean that my Christmas cards got written or Christmas shopping accomplished.

Regardless, I'm not one to miss the "season" so we headed to Christy's 3rd or 4th (and last, at least for 2 more years... more on that to come) Christmas bash. Complete with a spread worthy of (three) Kings, we caught up with old friends, and met new ones, too!

Exit polls (only in DC!!) found that people were split between the beautiful REAL Christmas tree and Christy's famous sugar cookies as their primary reason for attending, year after year.

Sunday brought time for one Christmas card to be written... and two more parties. The girls' annual cookie swap and holiday "yankee exchange" was better than ever... I played my cards JUST right and ended up with adorable Crate & Barrel, red and white snowmen dish towels!

The fun but packed weekend left me little time to reflect on much else... except for good friends and yummy treats; both great reminders of the real Reason for the season!

Monday, December 04, 2006

All Things Orange

If you're a Deac fan, you will undoubtedly recognize this as the itinerary for a trip down to Miami for the 2007 Orange Bowl, where we will face Louisville.


You can be sure that this is a first...

I can honestly say I don't think I've been prouder to belong to any group of people or organization... just take one look at this list of letters to the Deacon football team that Wake fans around the world are posting and tears'll be streaming down your face too... http://www.wfu.edu/wowf/2006/orangebowl/

See you in Miami!!!! GO DEACS!!!!

From CBS Sportsline: As of Friday morning, [December 15,] Wake Forest had sold all but 400 of its 17,500-ticket allotment for the Orange Bowl. This from a school that has only 55,000 living alumni and the third-smallest enrollment in I-A (4,321). If you want to do the math, that means there is a ticket available for every 3.36 alums and undergrads.


The Ultimate Sibling Rivalry

The first weekend in December has come and gone... if you've known my family during any part of the last 9 years, you know this means that we've just returned from the annual Army-Navy Classic.

This year, not unlike years past, the common theme throughout the various Army and Navy spots (spirited "commercials" put together by the Mids and Cadets) was that while it seemed like a lot being played for on the field, there is much more at stake... the freedom and safety of our country, and honoring those who are preparing to go and ensure the liberties we take for granted continue for generation after generation.

With that said... the competition on the field is intense as all other games during both Army and Navy's seasons are merely warm-ups to this final showdown.

The outcome? Navy prevailed... even after Army put up a good showing during their first drive. And we enjoyed a great weekend in Philadelphia... from a rainy Friday night at Jim's for cheesesteaks and then the Naked Chocolate Cafe for tasty treats...

... to a beautiful, crisp Saturday at the game, followed by an absolutely delicious meal at La Viola (THANKS, Carolyn, for the recommendation - we will definitely be back!!).

I'm proud of our Mids (GO NAVY) but above all, I give thanks to the bigger team down on the field and what they are ultimately fighting for.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


The phrase "act like you've been there" DOES NOT APPLY for us right now... The Wake Forest Demon Deacon FOOTBALL team is headed to Jacksonville, FL, this Saturday to take on Ga Tech in the ACC Title game.

This would indicate that we have won a lot more games than we've lost this season... don't believe it?

They don't make logos like that for nothing... so join us Saturday at 1pm in cheering on the old gold and black, as they continue their historical season.

And, make sure and check this out in preparation... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzNjhR45bN8


Monday, November 27, 2006

... and After...

... QUITE a weekend!

AFTER the Wake-Maryland game was over Saturday night, the outcome was Wake on top, 38-24... meaning I received this in my email Sunday morning. *Yes, this is Wake football that we're talking about...

** ... after much deliberation, I think it is time to take the plunge and sign up for the Demon Deacon license plate!!
AFTER the fiasco with my original contractor skipping town (anyone seen Guido??), my real estate agent came through at the very last minute with a new, comparable recommendation. Neddie and his side-kick showed up Friday morning, bright and early, and started and finished the job within the next 36 hours. I was left with beautiful new floors in my foyer and kitchen!

AFTER a long Wednesday evening spent casually with some friends (read: they hung out while I prepared Thanksgiving sides - dijon glazed carrots, stuffed mushrooms, and a fresh green salad with candied walnuts, blue cheese, and Craisins - and desserts - Tollhouse and pumpkin pies), I was ready to head to my brother's house for Turkey Day. Though we tried to avoid it, we definitely had more food than we knew what to do with.

... of course, Charlie was always willing to jump in when needed.

... and as usual, the box for the roaster had to be measured before anyone could eat.
AFTER eating more than my share Thursday evening, there was more to be had. This weekend also marked the celebration of Chris' cousin's Bar Mitzvah.
The event started off Friday evening with a delicious, hearty meal at "That's Amore". Saturday evening was Max's actual Bar Mitzvah service and party... and quite the party it was. I'd been to my share of "mitzvahs" growing up but I don't remember them being this fancy and fun. My favorite part? The candy bar, of course...
... and dancing off the delicious food with the cousins!

AFTER all was said and done... the weekend wound down just perfectly... since my floors were done so much faster than we thought, my dad and I headed back up to my brother's house to hang out Sunday afternoon. My brother, of course, took this opportunity to put my dad to work.

But dad also got some quality time with "the boy", teaching him the proper method for using a measuring tape... and what it feels like to walk in the shoes of a "king".

(this was just way too cute not to share)

Isn't it obvious that "GO NAVY" was on the tip of his tongue??

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Anything but Typical

Why I've decided that Thanksgiving vacation was the appropriate time to embark on my next home improvement project... and one that is significantly more substantial than any in the past... is beyond me. But nevertheless...

Starting bright and early (Black) Friday morning (saving me from spending unnecessary dollars out at the sales), we should *knock on wood that we can get in touch with my contractor* be replacing my foyer carpet with hardwood and the linoleum in the kitchen with tile!

Anyone who's been to my condo can attest to the fact that this will make quite a dramatic change (including little Annabelle - who will undoubtedly have a time getting used to the new slick surface)... but for those of you who haven't visited the glorious "west end" of Alexandria, I had to take the opportunity to provide a little before and after.


One thing's for sure: this will certainly reinforce who and what I'm thankful for... good food with family to energize me for 3 long days of labor, my dad flying up to DC to oversee the whole process, and having great friends around willing to entertain me during slow periods and to pitch in if help is requested.

Oh... and GO DEACS!! (Saturday night vs. Maryland, 7:45pm - ESPN)


Monday, November 20, 2006

Dedicated to my Deacs

Win or lose, it seems that I have taken to following the Deacs around the country for various sporting events. I suppose I owe this, in part, to my central location here in DC.

Earlier last week, we were lucky enough to catch one of the first Wake basketball games up in Lewisberg, PA, on the beautiful campus of Bucknell University (reminds me of a smaller Wake Forest nestled up in PA). After an over-time victory (PHEW!), the midnight-2:30am drive back to DC made me question my loyalty, but we persisted.

Then this past weekend, we enjoyed some beautiful fall football weather back in Kernersville and Winston while visiting Jayne and Jason... Hopes were high in anticipation of a good Deacon-Hokie battle. The battle was fought, but I wouldn't say it was good.

Though even after this weekend, I am still quite the proud Deacon fan... falling to the obnoxious Hokies and entering our final regular season football game with a 9-2 record is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is losing to top-seeded Maryland for the NCAA field hockey championship (which we've won something like 3 times in the past 5 years).

Yet still, there is much more to come... the final Wake football game - where we will fight for our lives against the Terps for a spot in the ACC Championship game (yes, this really is Wake football we're talking about), and the start of another ACC basketball season (ah-hem, another rebuilding year for the Deacs).

* In other sporting news, Army-Navy rapidly approaches - December 2nd - GO NAVY!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Going to the Chapel!!

Approximately 32 days from now, Katie, one of my dearest friends from college will walk down the aisle to meet Mr. Scott Thompson to start the rest of their lives together. I can't wait!!

In the meantime, we managed to toast their future together in a weekend of events celebrating the happy couple.

This past weekend, all of Katie's bridesmaids gathered in "the 'boro" (as the natives call Greensboro, NC). Friday evening kicked the festivities off with a relaxing round or two of Apples to Apples (my new favorite game... sorry Mexican Train).

Saturday morning we threw Katie an "Around the House" shower and brunch, complete with a number of Triad favorites... yummy Carving Board chicken salad plated on red-leaf lettuce, pineapple and strawberry skewers, Sister Schubert's rolls piping hot from the oven, Dewey's cheese straws, and Paige and the Cake Doctor's delicious mocha-angel food cake dotted with slivered almonds. All of the guests left with little bags of custom-M&Ms to remind them of the upcoming wedding!

Before heading out for the bachelorette events, Katie took us on a tour of their new home... so fun to see the place they will call home in just a few short weeks!

Once in Charlotte, assembled in our hotel, we started with a nice dinner *also enjoying a private viewing of the first quarter of the Wake-FSU showdown* and though it had started raining, nothing could dampen our spirits.

At Cosmos, we celebrated Wake's first-half lead with a fellow grad... c/o '36?? (we think not - but it was fun nonetheless). After it was official that Wake had shut-out FSU at FSU for the first time since 1973, we were well on our way! A few bars later, we finished off a fun evening at the Buckhead Saloon (had to include this for any Atlantans... apparently it still lives!)... and, of course, no bachelorette party would be complete without the bride up on the stage for her "last dance".

What a fun and memorable weekend! Katie's going to the chapel!!!

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