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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Annalisse's Grillz

Yesterday Annalisse had her long awaited braces put on. They'll be there for 18 months, during which time I hope she'll be able to eat enough food to keep her body growing!! She's such a picky eater, she doesn't need an excuse to eat less!

The discomfort of her morning was offset by a pleasurable pedicure for her and my sister Mary in the afternoon. By the evening, though, she needed some Advil to take the edge off. So far she's managed to eat a meal of Kraft Macaroni-n-Cheese and crab cakes. This morning the oatmeal was a hard sell, but there was always an instant breakfast shake with ice cream.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Does this mean I'm an adult now?

On Saturday Mark and our neighbor, Morey, drove over to my mother-in-law Pat's to pick up a grandfather clock. Pat is moving in a couple of weeks and decided not to take the clock to her new place.

The clock, which was a gift from Rochester Telephone (or was it Frontier back then?) when my late father-in-law retired several years ago, stands almost seven feet tall and looks great our front hall. It hasn't run in almost eight years, so after we have some painting done this spring we're going to call in the clock expert to have it cleaned and reset.

Having a serious piece of "furniture" like this in the house really makes me feel like I'm a responsible adult now! I guess I'd better start acting the part!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baker Movie Nights

This time of year (and all winter long) when we're spending time hanging at home in front of the fire, there are certain movies we watch over and over. So, if you'd like some good (a relative term, I know) movie suggestions, here are some of our favorites:
  • Love, Actually - one of our relatively new Christmas traditions, a little racy in an "English" sort of way, but has so much heart and a rockin' soundtrack!
  • The Sixth Sense - I think everyone knows how spooky and clever this one is.
  • Titanic - a bit of a cliche, but still an engaging journey with a story line that draws you in.
  • Star Wars (mostly IV, A New Hope) - The movie that made a huge impact on my 13-year-old life.
  • Big Fish - a really original tale of a strained father-son relationship that is just perfect.
  • Lord of the Rings (1 and 3) - I like all the LOR movies, but mainly numbers 1 and 3 because there is less fighting and more storytelling.
  • Harry Potter (3, 4, and 5) - The characters in these movies seem like old friends now...we've all grown up with them. We'll be sad when the movie series is over, just like we were with the books.
  • Bridget Jone's Diary (1) - The first of this two-movie series is so sweet and funny. The best part: Colin Firth.
  • The Shawshank Redemption - We just re-discovered this amazing movie of hope. Violent in parts, but its inspiring message overrides all that.
  • Best in Show - I suppose I could put any movie with/by Christopher Guest on this list, but this one is really funny!
  • Field of Dreams - Another father-son movie. As Charlie used to say, you need a box of Kleenex to watch this one.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (1) - So clever and funny! Johnny Depp is amazing and Orlando Bloom is so dreamy.
Additionally, here are some of my favorites that we don't necessarily watch as a family:
  • When Harry Met Sally - I'm pulled in every time I see this one. So many quotable lines!
  • Goodfellas - Violent but engaging, and a great song track.
  • Pride and Prejudice - the BBC version (with who else? Colin Firth!), not the crappy Keira Knightly version. Every year I have a P & P marathon screening at some point in January.
  • Same Time, Next Year - This one's been around a long time, but I still can't help watching it every time it's on. Another one with a lot of heart.
  • The Way we Were - twists your heart around then breaks it in two.
  • Garden State - A very different movie that Zack Braff says is closer to his real self than J.D. on Scrubs. Great soundtrack.
  • The Manchurian Candidate - The original movie from the 1962. So much better than the recent remake.
  • The Others - So creepy in every way with a twist ending. Very satisfying. About the only movie I can stand with Nicole Kidman in it.
  • A Beautiful Mind - Definitely a different point of view when thinking about how the human mind works. Great acting!
  • Apollo 13 - Suspenseful, sit-at-the-edge-of-your-seat story. I can't believe they actually made it back to Earth.
  • This is Spinal Tap - So funny, you really have to pay attention the first time because there's so much in this one.
  • Thank You for Smoking -A clever satirical comedy...hey, everyone has a job to do; even the tobacco, gun and alcohol lobbyists.
  • Muriel's Wedding - tagged as a comedy, but this thoughtful movie is far from a comedy. Great Abba soundtrack aside, a very troubling tale.
I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that rise to the top. Can you think of any to add?! Please suggest!

Until next time, happy viewing!

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's all over but the shopping

We survived another (great) Christmas (pictures in slideshow at left). Yesterday at this time we were gathered around the tree opening presents before heading over to Lena and Ken's for a Christmas breakfast. In the afternoon Grandma Pat came over for some more Christmas present opening, and we had a great dinner of filet mignon cooked out on the grill. It was a great day, with lots of surprises and a little relaxation thrown it, just like Christmas should be.

That's all over this morning. We're off early to the mall for some post-Christmas gift card spending. Cameron has been saving for months for an iTouch, with his cold-hard cash plus the gift cards he received he's finally able to get one. Annalisse is off to a couple of her favorite stores (it seems she can never have too many clothes or too much of her current obsession: make-up). Mark and I are just along for the ride. Maybe I'll get a flavored coffee out of the deal.

The great news is we still have a lot of vacation to look forward to. And for that, I'm eternally grateful!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

'Twas the day before the night before Christmas

'Twas the day before the night before Christmas
and all through the house
not a child nor husband was present
they were at work or school-ouse. (I had to make it rhyme somehow...)

Took my place on the sofa
coffee in hand
and watched five episodes of True Blood
that show is not bland

Then took a shower
before the kids got home
so we could head to the mall
Wish I was in Rome..

Okay, very baaaddd poetry, but hey - I'm on vacation! And my brain is turning to mush, which is a good thing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

For that hard-to-buy-for guy on your list

The folks at Burger King have come to the rescue with their new body spray for men, "Flame," which they describe as "the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat." I'm sorry, but the picture of the naked, lounging Burger King alone is the stuff of nightmares. Maybe I'll get it for Mark for Christmas - I'm sure the dog will be a loyal companion with the Flame spray around.

I suppose it's not too far off a concept. After all, women have smelled like strawberries, watermelon, vanilla, cinnamon and blueberries for years.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The First Big Snowstorm of the Winter

Today we got the first really snowy-blowy storm of the year. It seemed like everyone was really excited about it, which was probably even more heightened because it was occurring on a Friday (get our early from work/school?!) and, for me, was my last day of work until January 5 (HURRAY!!).

As soon as I got home from work (the College did close early!), the kids and I headed out to do some shoveling. We shovelled the high, heavy snow for about 15 minutes until an angel bringing glad tidings of great joy (and a snowblower) came over to blow us out. That, Morrie! What a neighbor!

It was great spending time outside on such a great winter day, and the dog was probably the happiest Baker of all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How to impress your friends and relatives

You're sure to impress your friends and relatives with these EXTREMELY easy (three ingredients), yet very delicious Christmas Windows cookies recipe:
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag colored marshmallows
Melt butter in the microwave. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, mix them together. When a little cool, fold in bag of marshmallows. Using saran wrap, role the mixture into a log and refrigerate for at least an hour (overnight works fine, too). Unwrap and slice the log (about 1/4 inch each slice)...viola! Your "cookies" look like stained glass windows, and they taste great!

Try them! You'll have 'em clamoring for the recipe! Maybe you can sell it to buy Christmas gifts!

The Worst of Holiday Eating

...or the best, depending on your POV.

This week will be an eating disaster for me. Today at lunch we're having a taco fiesta, followed by our division lunch tomorrow at Pomodoro Grill (which will most likely work out okay since I can never find anything I really like there), followed by our staff lunch on Friday at the Cheesecake Factory (they have a salad there I really love, but it's the cheesecake that gets you). On Sunday is the annual Fourth Avenue Cookie exchange, another gastronomical disaster with my homemade eggnog (again), appetizers, and, of course, all the cookies (I'm making a cheesecake bar something-or-other; it was an easy recipe in the cookie book).

See you at the gym in January! (Wait! I hate the gym...see you walking around the Village.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

No Chit Chat cafe - Darn it!

Yesterday was a productive day (in many ways, but mostly shopping), but a big disappointment was that the Chit Chat Cafe wasn't open. C'mon! We only go there maybe twice a year and I was so looking forward to it. Regardless of the disappointing start, we knocked off most of our shopping and can relax (like we have trouble with that).

Next up...the neighborhood cookie exchange on Sunday, December 21.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Shopping Spree

For the last several years I've taken a weekday off from work to knock off most of my Christmas shopping in one foul swoop. Today is that day, and boy do I need it. The days leading up to my extended holiday break from work seem endless.

This year I invited Mark to come along. I'm not sure if I've said this before, but Mark is a really good sport about shopping. In fact, he really likes it. So we're heading out early for breakfast at the Chit Chat Cafe in Victor (at left), then it's off to Eastview Mall and surrounding stores (stack of coupons in hand) for a marathon couple of hours to clear my list.

After shopping I may or may not get my nap in...I'm having a holiday party for co-workers and I suppose I should do a little dusting and vacuuming so they don't get the added bonus of Golden Retriever hair in their dip. Tonight's highlight will be homemade eggnog, which I haven't made in years. Once you get past the idea of all those raw eggs it actually tastes pretty good. Down the hatch!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Apparently, they've been "good" so far this year

The Baker and Holmsten kids passed the first crucial test as a barometer for their behavior in 2008 when they received their St. Nicholas Day treats yesterday. Cousins Peter, Abbey and Phoebe came over around 2pm for some hot cocoa, ice cream sundaes and just plain fun hanging around (for some reason they all immediately head upstairs to play hide-and-seek...that must be their "thing" when they get together).
Yesterday was a FREEEZZZINNG day (17 degrees), so it was a good day to hang out by the light of the tree and the warmth of the fire. Only a couple of weeks until our much-needed Christmas break!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Chopping Block Cometh?

Mark's employer, Paetec just had another massive layoff today (his job was spared). In the last year or so, but mostly in the last several months, the loss of his job hangs over us (mostly me since he doesn't really like it but doesn't have anything else lined up - fishing all day won't pay the bills!) like a black cloud. Today the headlines read that 222 jobs (5% of Paetec's workforce) have been eliminated. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that he can keep squeaking by the job cuts!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Holding Catholics Hostage

This article caught my eye about the South Carolina priest who told his parishioners that if they voted for Obama they should not (could not?) take communion until they had done penance for voting for a "pro-abortion" president (actually, he and others, including myself, are technically "pro-choice," not pro-abortion). It's amazing to me that this guy would hold his parishioners hostage from this important sacrament for Catholics (and all Christians). I know that when I was growing up, and I'm sure it's still the same, the parish priest had a lot of influence over his congregation, and many viewed what the priest preached each week as "law," even though it might have only been his opinion (I suppose it's that way with a lot of churches). This seems like an abuse of power by one individual in an otherwise hopeful time of change for the rest of us. It makes you wonder how many people's votes are influenced by their spiritual leader's opinions...we know there are many...