Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ski Bunnies!

Guess where we are going....

We are going to WHISTLER!!!!!
After the past couple of months we have had, we decided we are in serious need of a vacation!  We cancelled all of our vacations in 2010 in order to pay for fertility treatments.  The first half of the year was spent waiting for Mark to return from Iraq and the second half has been spent going back and forth to the Dr. being poked and prodded...I've had about all I can handle for one year. You only live once, so...we are starting 2011 with a bang!!!!!  We will be skiing our faces off!  If you know us...you know when we go to the mountain we don't play around.  Our plan is to ski as hard as we can and have a blast while doing it!  I've started pulling out all of our gear to see what needs to be replaced...dusted off...or tuned up.  We can't wait!!!!!  

Weddings and More

This past weekend was Kelli and Ian's wedding in Portland.  Molly and Jon flew in from GA and rode down with us to celebrate.  It was a fun wedding and it was great to hang out with our sweet GA friends!

The ladies!

The handsome husbands!  Jon and Matt did the saber arch and Mark did not...that is why he is wearing a suit and not blues.

On Sunday night, the "coffee girls" and their fellas got together for one last dinner before Heather left for the great state of O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A.  Oh, how I will miss sweet Heather and our Tuesday morning coffee dates.  This morning I had to drink my own coffee...all alone...:(  

This is our last week in 2010 in WA!  We head to "God's country"this weekend aka...Texas our Texas...aka...the land of Chick-fil-A, Chuy's, Joe T's and BBQ!!!  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to Sugar Cookies....my version!

Over the past few weeks I have had multiple inquiries on how I do my sugar cookies, so I decided to do a little "how to".  This is what I have found works best for me, but I am sure there are many other wonderful ways.  Here is step by step...
This is the final product

And here is how it starts...

Cream 2 C. sugar and 2 C. butter

Add 6 TB. milk, 1 t. almond flavor, 1 t. butter flavor, 2 eggs...and beat

Until it looks like this...

Slowly add 6 C. flour and 1 tsp. salt

I like to separate my dough into little packages and chill it for a few hours.  If I'm not using it for a week or so I put it in freezer bags and freeze it until I am ready to use it.  

Preheat your oven to 350 and get out your first batch.  I like to use flour to prepare my surface.  Some people use powdered sugar, but that makes everything sticky...so I just stick to flour.  And I use it liberally.  It doesn't harm the cookies.
Roll the dough out about as thick at the picture below.  If you are using a plastic wilton cookie cutter, the dough should reach the top of the cutter.  

Cut out your cookies and put the scraps aside.  You can re-roll the dough, but I like to wait and combine it with the other already rolled dough.  Does that make sense?  I roll all the cold dough once and then combine all the scraps to re-roll until it is all gone.  

Here are the cookies before going into the oven...

And here they are after...

Here is what the bottom should look like...Lightly golden...I like them to stay soft.  

Let the cookies cool on wire racks.  It takes 4 racks to cool the entire batch.  
Here is the cast and crew for the icing
Mix 8 TB. meringue powder and a scant 1 C. water and beat until foamy.

Add the rest of the ingredients...(1 tsp. light Karo, 1 tsp. almond flavor and 1 bag of powdered sugar (2lb).  I don't bother sifting, but you will notice little clumps of sugar at times, but they seem to work them selves out while piping.  I don't take the extra time to sift, but you can if this little clumps bother you.  Continue beating until you get stiff peaks.  Check out the picture below.  That is a stiff peak and this is the consistency you want for piping.  

Next, I organize all the cookies onto the wire racks by type and decide what colors I will need.  Then I divide the icing up into however many bowls are needed for the amount of colors.  

My tools for icing...disposable bags, americolor gels for coloring, tips (#3 for piping) and couplers.  

Next I pipe all the cookies with my stiff icing.  

Next, I prepare the icing for flooding the cookies.  I use the stiff icing that is already colored (make sure and save some for detail work later) and I begin adding water a little at a time.  Add a little water and stir...continue until you get the consistency of the picture below.  When you spoon some out and let it go back in, within a second or two it should disappear back into the icing.  

Pour the icing into a piping bag with no tip.  Fill up the bag and then snip off the end when you are ready to use it.  Make all your colors first, because you might want to make dots or something into wet icing.  

Here is the final product.  Let the cookies dry for a day before packaging them.  Enjoy!  Hope this helps any aspiring cookie making friends.  :)  

Seattle...Bunco...Sweaters....Oh my!

This past week/weekend was one of the most fun I have ever had since we have lived in WA.  It started last Thursday when we had a special girls lunch in Seattle and got to tour 4 radio stations!  Our friend, Mallory, works for them in their promotions department.  She has a cool job with an awesome view!  We ate lunch at a place called the Icon Grill!  I must say the food was delish and the company was even better.

Here is Mallory's view every day!  

Our lovely tour guide!

Our favorite station!

On the deck at the radio station!

The following night was Bunco at Shalane's house.  That girl really know how to host and made some amazing snacks...including Red Velvet cake balls!!!!  I didn't win any money once again, but it is about the friends and the fun and not so much about the money!  Can't wait to play again!
Rolling away...

The losers....:(  

Saturday night was a wonderfully tacky, yet refined Christmas party at the Hipp's house!  We all dressed up in some lovely Chirstmas wear and had a blast playing games and eating delicious food!  This is why it is IMPOSSIBLE to lose weight around the holidays...too many parties...too much food!
Enjoy the collage of tackiness.  :)

And that was the end of the weekend of fun...and this weekend should be just as great!  Molly and Jon in town and a weekend of fun in Portland!  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Cookies

The last thing my mom and I did on her visit was make these tasty little morsels for her to take back to her office.  I think they turned out pretty cute!  I can't wait to make more....I'm just loving decorating cookies!

Giving Thanks!

This past week was a mix of extreme highs and extreme lows.  I'm glad that the hard parts are over, but the best part of the week was getting to see my Mom!  It was a last minute trip for her to get to come see me and it could not have been better!!!  We had an absolutely amazing time....shopping...cooking...eating and movie watching!  It was probably the most quality time I have spent with my mom in years.  Here is the week recapped in pictures.

This was where Dixie camped out to help us cook Thanksgiving food.  She was also the clean up crew and happily ate anything that dropped.  

Mom...prepping the turkey!  

Dixie loved the snow!

This display was made by Army cooks.  It took them 2 weeks and was made from modeling chocolate and the stryker is a cake.  I think Food Network should hire them!

Another view of their impressive work!

Mark was the champagne server.  

Thanksgiving lunch at the DFAC.  

I truly have so much to be thankful for!