Sunday, November 30, 2008

Martinez Tradition: Thanksgiving on Saturday

Once again, upon arriving at a house full of people, Maxine showed everyone how angry and red her face could get. But after I fed her, she had a complete change of mood and was happy and calm the rest of the evening. She was letting everyone hold her and play with her. I still think she's going to be our shy child.
Every year we get together at my mother-in-law's house (which is about a 3-minute drive now that we live in this new house) the Saturday after Thanksgiving with family from Mexico and some from nearby. We eat a traditional turkey dinner with a few nontraditional sides, like frijoles and my mother-in-law's special ground beef "stuffing" with peas, carrots and potatoes (no bread crumbs but it's really good). We used to stay up really late, drinking tequila or kahlua, munching on sweets and nuts and singing karaoke. Now that some of us have babies and small children, the festivities have quieted down a lot. Speaking of babies, I was looking forward to holding my nephew Ricardito last night but he slept the whole time!
You know those killer eyelashes on Raquel's peepers? Here's what they look like with mascara:

Friday, November 28, 2008

Grandma Emma's Thanksgiving

Grandma Emma had a full house yesterday with all of us for Thanksgiving. I was impressed with everyone's effort in making all the food. We all made really good stuff, mostly recipes from Paula Deen, Tyler Florence and Alton Brown, which means lots of good stuff from scratch that took a lot of work. Aunt Vesta made Paula Deen's Pumpkin Cheesecake. Mary made two pies: one was Paula Deen's Chocolate Pecan and the other was a delicious apple pie but I forget where she got the recipe. Mary also made Tyler Florence's crab artichoke dip (that's not the official name, I'm sure) for an appetizer. Grandma did the turkey, stuffing and gravy. My dad did a spiral ham. Debbie made the sweet taters. I made something called The Best Ever Green Bean Casserole (so glad it turned out good!) and Alton Brown's It's A Wonderful Waldorf (which wasn't really that good to me). There was a bunch of other stuff, I just don't remember everything. Oh! Grandma made her soooo-good boysenberry pie. And James and Ally made a pumpkin pie. Everyone pitched in!
Uncle Mark was supposed to be there with us but for some reason, he left before we all got there and nobody knew exactly why. 'Twas a mystery, indeed, and very unexpected.
Then Maxine was very unhappy. When we walked into the house and she saw all the people she got really upset and wouldn't stop crying. She was only calm and happy when I took her outside and walked around the house. As soon as I would take her back in the house she'd cry again. Jose eventually put her to sleep and she took a 5 hour nap in my old bed! She tuckered herself out with all the crying. It's too bad I couldn't show off how cute and fun she really is.
Grandma suddenly didn't feel good right before dinner. I felt so sorry for her but she was the one feeling sorry for us having to fend for ourselves without her. Aunt Vesta found some medicine for her and pretty soon she felt better and joined us for the rest of the evening.
Raquel had a blast with Debbie and thank goodness for someone like her! She has almost as much energy as Raquel!
I'm so glad I got to chat with my cousins, my aunt, my grandpa and my dad and Debbie. This was the biggest Thanksgiving I've been to since before my Grandma Betty died ten years ago. It was a good day.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Guess the Cookie, Genius

We are at it again! Maxine has been taking long enough naps for me to get in some good baking time. It is fun and smells so good in here (it's taking away from the burnt popcorn smell I caused yesterday).

The weather is getting really nice here. I like it to be overcast when I'm baking but it'd be even better if it rained! We may get some on Thanksgiving, they say. We'll be having a grand feast at Grandma Emma's that day, with a mix of cousins, siblings, aunts, in-laws and children. It's a potluck. We are looking very much forward to it. Oh, here is a picture of Raquel and I smelling the fruits of our labor:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Cookies: Batch One!

Today marked the beginning of my Christmas baking frenzy. I enjoy this time of year so much! It is great to have an excuse to bake mounds and stacks of sweet stuff. Since I am on Weight Watchers, I really gotta watch it when I taste test. Just really tiny bites and that's it.

Raquel did a lot of photography for me while I prepared the cookie dough. Then I let her do the "fun part" of the preparation which was placing the special candies on each dollop of dough. I'm not going to tell what these special candies are. If you get a gift of cookies from me for Christmas, these will be a surprise.

Raquel and I Tried Out the New Oven

We tried out our oven a couple days ago, made some toffee bars with rainbow sprinkles on top. Our oven has a light in it, which we didn't have at our old house, so it's quite fun to watch things bake. Raquel helped out a lot with this recipe. And this is my spice drawer in which I have placed a couple of those in-drawer spice racks. They don't fit perfectly but well enough.
Here is Maxine in her nightgown on top of a throw my great-grandma Lena Looney made a long time ago. Grandma Emma gave it to me.

Raquel has gotten really good at holding Maxine now that she's a sturdier baby. How cute.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Moving Pictures

I thought I would squirt a few pictures to you guys so you can kinda picture what we're doing. That's Jose cleaning the old San Gabriel house while holding Maxine. You see Raquel playing in her playground at the new house. Maxine is wearing a vintage scarf, so is Raquel for that matter. I thought I had lost these scarves but during unpacking I found them. They're from my Grandma Emma. There is also a picture of the side of our house where I have planted a lot of succulents and geraniums from the old house. We have shade on our property most of the day due to the surrounding Oak trees which are protected by the City of Pasadena, meaning, you can't touch them let alone trim them. It causes a lot of dampness on the ground and spots where grass doesn't grow because there isn't enough sun.
That's all for now!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We're fine. Just moving.

Last time we moved, almost four years ago, we had one infant, not much stuff and went from a tiny apartment to a 1530 sq ft house. That was easy compared to what we've been doing this week--moving from that house to this house, which is about 1000 sq ft, maybe more, with a 4 year old and a 3 month old and a teen-age brother (or Uncle, depending who you are).
I actually like unpacking. It's a fresh start to organization and it makes me imagine the future, especially in our beautiful new kitchen. The house we're renting is from the early 20th century but the kitchen is from this century. I love it. As soon as I get it set up I'm going to be baking away, lots of Christmas cookies to make.
Maxine has outgrown her bassinet but we haven't had time or a chance to get her crib out of our portable storage unit that sits out on our curb. Raquel has spent the last two nights at my mom-in-law's house, very willingly. Tonight she will sleep here at her new home on her mattress on the floor. She thinks its fun. Right now she's taking a bubble bath. She gets so dirty playing outside on her new playground in our backyard. The owners put it in very recently for their children but they moved far away, so luckily it has Raquel to keep it warm.
Jose and I have had James to help us through this entire move. Whenever he isn't at school or work, he's helping drive truckloads of our belongings over here. Right now he's out looking for a new job. He turned 18 last week and is hoping to get a better job, close to our new home.
I like our house better and better. At first, without our things in it I thought it seemed teency. Too small for us. I kept saying to myself, "We will have to make it work." Well, it's looking better to me now. My bedroom isn't as small as I thought with our queen size bed in it and I actually really like the existing paint color. The dining room is a nice size, has nice curtains and paint color. The main bathroom is going to get some work done on it next week (paint, window frames, door frames, etc). The half bath is cute and comfy enough for poopin', we found that out after a good pot of coffee.
One thing I'm not crazy about and have never had to deal with: wood floors throughout (except ceramic tile in the kitchen and tile in the full bath). The wood floors look pretty but seem to need cleaning all the time which is something we can't practically do. I'm thinking we need a Roomba. The floors got cleaned yesterday but as of last night they were really dirty judging from my bare feet. I washed them before I went to bed. Today I've worn socks all day in the house and I can feel every speck of dirt on the floor under my feet. I can't stand it. Is this how it is when you have wood floors? Ugh.
Jose and I have been working nonstop this week and are getting exhausted. He wants to go to an asian massage parlor and get a couple's foot massage. I am with that.
Tomorrow morning we are going to do a final walk-through of our old house, take a few more plants and hand the keys over to the bank. I wonder what that's going to be like.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Virginia Part Four

Samantha blogged about her baby shower already so instead of duplicating all of that I've chosen to show you pictures from the hike Susan and I went on after the shower. About a mile and a half away from Samantha's house is a scenic place called New Quarter Park. This is where Susan goes jogging some times. I took about a hundred or so pictures. Here are a few of my favorites.

The shell in the first photo was the largest I have seen of it's kind; as big as my foot. The lake shore was covered in ancient shells.
We saw a Great Blue Herron. Susan knows something about birds, otherwise I wouldn't have known what it was.
The weather could not have been better for our late afternoon hike. And then after the sun went down it naturally cooled off some but we were walking at a more brisk pace (mostly because I was a little afraid of getting attacked by territorial and heavily-antlered bucks [deer right up close to us]). I did not get any good photos of the deer as I do not quite know how to use my new camera yet at night. Too bad.
This beautiful place is unlike anything I see in my daily life in Southern California. It has me wanting to go on more hikes, to take more photos. New Quarter Park is really lovely.