Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas with Family

Kathleen and Tony
Uncle Donny and Tony

The holidays are always a little hard for me, as my daddy is no longer a part of them. Although I still felt that great loss this year, I was overwhelmed with joy by the family that I do have in my life. We had a Christmas that topped all previous years that I can remember.

My sister, Heather and brother-in-law, Erkin arrived on December 23. It was their first Christmas in the Bay Area in two years, and we were so happy to fill it with hang out time, conversation, and food. On Christmas Eve Eve, Tony and I, Heather and Erkin, and mom went to Monterey Bay Aquarium where we enjoyed sea horses and jelly fish and finished the day with an Italian dinner in Monterey.

Tony's Uncle Donny visited from Ohio for three weeks, and we were able to spend some amazing quality time with him and Tony's parents throughout his stay. We were questioned aggresivley by Uncle Donny about what Tony and I wanted for Christmas gifts...Don identifies himself as Santa Clause (and Santa Clause, he was). Tony went with his family to cut down their Christmas tree, an annual event that is always freezing but wonderful...I stayed home because I was sick- but the tree that they picked was beautiful, and worthy of Kathleen's Santa theme.

I have never seen a grown adult so excited about getting started at opening gifts on Christmas morning as Uncle Donny. Don was hoping we would be over at Tony's parents house by 7 a.m to get started, in which I replied...."you don't know me very well, do you Uncle Donny, we'll be there at 9." So Christmas day started with pile of lovely gifts from family, and breakfast a-la Kathleen.

After the Frascone Christmas morning, Tony and I were off to the Riden Christmas morning. At the Riden household, stockings are especially important- with toothbrushes and hand sanitizer viewed with just as much excitement as any gift we open under the tree. We did in fact open gifts under the tree, but the most amazing part of Christmas was in all truth, the time we spent together.

Rob was so excited that the boys enjoyed the dart board he set up in the garage

The Parker and Riden Girls

Then it was off to Pinole to spend Christmas evening with the Parkers, my parent's best friends and unofficial extended family. We spend Christmas with them every year, and as the years have gone on our families have grown. Sarah and Kurt added Katie and Charlie (the world's cutest kids) to their family unit, Megan's boyfriend Robert is becoming a part of the family, and Heather and I have added our amazing husbands over the years. The boys of the Riden and Parker girls enjoyed playing darts in the garage, while the women chatted about the year, kids, jobs, etc. We also decided that we will be making a trip to Arizona next Christmas in order to get away from cold weather and enjoy Sarah and Kurt's stomping ground.

Before Heather and Erkin left for Boston, they cooked a beautiful Turkish meal for us and our family friends, the Burkeys. The meal was fabulous (you should really try Turkish food) and the evening was filled with laughter and great catching up! Heather and Erkin spent their final day hanging out at me and Tony's new house eating left over Turkish food, playing Wii, and fixing all of our little computer problems (Erkin and Heather are very technologically advanced).

We had so many days of family-filled fun and togetherness. Tony and I were reminded just how incredibly blessed we are and how much fun we have spending time with family.

Muffins a-la Reb

I have been "practicing" baking muffins over the last few days, and I have come up with one final explanation for the results...I'm not so good at baking. I am intent on not only making delicious fluffy muffins but ones that are healthy and filling as well. I have tried a few recipes, the first was my mom's and when I added up all the calories I discovered that one (very small muffin) was 170 calories. UNACCEPTABLE.

The second batch that I made, I substituted flour for ground Fiber One cereal, instead of oil I used apple sauce, and splenda or replaced the sugar. These muffins had a lot of flavor but didn't cook all the way through- a little hard on the outside and a bit slushy on the inside. Again, UNACCEPTABLE.

So, in making the third recipe, I combined the two recipes of before and had better results. The muffins are 60 calories a pop and full of fiber. Here it goes....

1 cup fiber one cereal (ground)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
6 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup non-fat milk
2 egg whites
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
6 tsp apple sauce (low calorie AS)
2 tsp cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients and add wet ingredients slowly. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until you can poke a toothpick in the muffin without batter on the tooth pic.

This recipe is not the "recipe of all delicious and healthy muffins know to man recipe"...but its pretty good. I will continue to refine it, until it becomes the best!!
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