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.

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