Friday, December 25, 2009


Coming to you live from beautiful Southern California... ...we PNW Liebels wish you the Merriest Christmas! We're having a wonderful time here visiting with dear family and friends and hope you're enjoying your holidays as much as we are! P.S. Yes, our Christmas card was Photoshopped (Thank you Hayley!) and then I actually had to re-touch it to take the glare of the picture . Sheesh!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm Leaving This...

...for two whole weeks. This was last night. Our bed. Also known as Willie's Favorite Spot in the House.

And this was tonight. It seems to be Willie's Favorite Position on Willie's Favorite Spot in the House. Not that he ever gets to come into the house. Ahem. This little boy with the big mitts has purred and kneaded his way into all of our hearts. And now we're going to leave him and Molly here at home (our nice neighbor Amy is going to take care of them) while we go play and celebrate down in California. I'm quite sure there will be a few staring contests through the sliding glass door while we're away. Abby will be going to stay with her old friend Sasha. Lucky girl...Tom knows how to spoil a pup! Even though all our Fuzzies are going to be in good hands, we're still going to miss them like crazy.

I have to go hug a Fuzzie now. =)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cookies: Version 2 (ME WANT COOKIES!)

Hi Athena and Zoe! (That was for you!!)

Maybe the Cookie Monster should come to our house! This past Wednesday, my good friend Kathy came over and we had the 2nd Annual Cookie Baking Extravaganza. (Scroll to the bottom of that post for a photo of last years haul!) We don't just bake three or four varieties. No, that won't do. We baked a grand total of 19 varieties of cookies! People, NINETEEN!!! This was bright and early, around 8:00 am. Kathy was just unloading her stash of doughs, icings, toppings and supplies. My Kathy just might be the most organized gal I know. Hi Kathy!!! =) She inspires me. See? Those are all my bowls along the back counter and on the left side of the island. Have I mentioned how much I love my island? Cuz I really do. It is a bakers dream. Anyway, once we get started, we don't stop. I'm not kidding. We mix, roll, cut, bake, sprinkle, ice, stack, etc. Oh, and we taste. A cookie from each batch is split in half and we critique. Sometimes, we have to re-test a cookie...for quality control purposes only. Heh heh.

There isn't a lot of time for photos. We're just too busy. But these little gems were my most anticipated cookie on my list. They are Lemony BonBon's. Just the name alone makes my mouth water. So, you start with a pre-roasted pecan half. And then lay them good side down on the baking mat (and if you're me, you make sure they're all laying in the same direction!...kinda like the hangers! Hi Missy Laura!) I digress.

Next, you place one of the rolled balls of dough on top of the roasted pecan... ...and squash it flat with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake, cool, slather with lemon icing and... YEEEAHHHHHH!!!! For a girl that likes lemon, these did not disappoint. I think this recipe will be on next years list for sure.

These are Zesty Lime Shortbread. AKA: Pain in the Ass Butt to Come Up With A Lot of Lime Zest But So So Worth It Shortbread And this was less than half of these! Yummy!

Now, lest you think we have only idyllic, perfect cookies to show for our efforts, I offer you these: Ummm...that is a dozen cookies. Ummmm...they tasted really good. Ummm...okay, I can't come up with anything else redeeming about these. And while they were Kathy's recipe this year, I have to say that I had a similar Fail last year with a similar recipe. They ended up with Earl Grey ganache sandwiched between them but were so delicate, it almost wasn't worth it. I know...I lost you after "ganache" didn't I?

All in all, it was the perfect day of baking. Until about 5:00 when our feet and backs were aching from NOT SITTING DOWN ALL DAY and we headed to the Roadhouse for dinner with the menfolk. Hayley came with and snarfed down her dinner before heading off to Confirmation at church. After dinner, we went back to the house for another hour or two of final icing and packaging. If you got some of the cookies, we hope you enjoyed them. It is truly our labor of love and we have a ball doing it. And no doubt, Kathy and I will be hunting down new recipes and cookie cutters for the 3rd Annual Cookie Baking Extravaganza!

Meanwhile, we woke up to the first flakes of snow this morning! It's been falling steady this morning...nothing too heavy but it sure does make everything so pretty!

Have a lovely day and stay warm! Even you SoCal folks down there!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The little lights are not twinkling...

Anyone who knows a Liebel is well aware that most of us cannot get through the period from Thanksgiving to Christmas without peppering our conversations with choice lines from the collective Liebel favorite holiday film "Christmas Vacation." It simply cannot be done. And truth be told, it doesn't even have to be the holidays. It has become Liebel-speak. And so introduces this years version of the gingerbread houses. And the little lights are not twinkling...because I couldn't find little lights. What is the crafting world coming to??? Is it too much to ask that Michaels keep on carrying the little strings of lights for me??? I guess it is...I guess IT IS.

My grandpa was an old German baker and these are made from his secret recipe for gingerbread. Honeycake, as he called it. I grew up watching my mama make the little houses and then I got to help decorate them. For a full recap of the entire process involved, go HERE (Step 1) and HERE (Step 2) and HERE (Step 3!) This house if for my friend, Holly. I put one of the houses up for bid in the Silent Auction for our Sports Booster Club (GO COUGS!!!) and Holly very sweetly camped out at that table to make sure she got the final bid for a little gingerbread house. I just sent her an email letting her know that her fresh prize is ready for delivery.

This is the second of the three houses I made this year. Cute yes, but the little lights are not twinkling.

I have got to find little strings of lights. Obviously.

This is the last of the houses...errrhhh...houses and trailer! Can you stand it??? This little darling is for a friend of Dan's. He's a sweet old man that lives right on one of the prettiest lakes around here. He has this cute little trailer and the most amazing trees, plants and bushes surrounding it. He invited us over to fish off of his dock one day. The fishing wasn't so good but it sure was fun to sit in the sun with a margarita and a fishing pole, watching the bald eagles soaring above and listening to fishing stories with friends. So this is my ode to rendition of his charming trailer with a little bit of Lake Shoecraft thrown in for authenticity.

HI BUD!!! Thanks for the fun afternoon fishing off your dock! =)

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to eat so I can take my back pill!!! (See, I told you it couldn't be done!!!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cookies: Version 1

First of all, a happy photo. This is my dishtowel drawer. I know….sigh. This is just one of those things that makes me smile. And yes, I really do keep them folded and stacked all orderly like that. My own mother laughed at me when she saw me folding my dishtowels just so. What can I say? Happy. Once December hits, the everyday towels switch places with the holiday ones. Admit it: Looking at that photo brings a smile to your face, doesn’t it? =)

Now, on to the cookies. The ORCA program that Hayley attends is Oceanography-based, so when I came across fish-shaped cookie cutters, I knew we had to make cookies for teacher gifts. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then I found little fishie plates and about died of The Cute right there in the store! Hayley and I decorated these little babies last night. It’s time consuming and a little messy, but the end result is worth it.And for all the kitty fans out there: This is what I have to go through to get a photo. I think its pretty obvious that our MollyMo didn’t get the memo about kitties staying off the counter. Tsk tsk.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Prodigal Son: Continued

Remember this? I suppose I should finish the story of Willie Lunchmeat. This is our boy. He came to live with us this past 4th of July. We were celebrating at the Christiansen's house and they introduced us to "Orange", a stray kitty that had started to overstay his welcome after three weeks of annoying their kitties and driving their dog Maisie nuts. Dan decided we needed an outdoor mouser kitty and... ...Willie moved in with us that night. We weren't sure if he would stay around, but he did. I put a blanket on a chair for him and kept his food and water bowls full and he seemed pretty happy. By the way, that is Willie's drug of choice there: Cat Mint. Anywayyyy, our boy stayed around for 2 1/2 weeks and then he was gone. I wasn't totally surprised, only because he seemed to be somewhat of a free spirit, coming and going as he pleased, keeping his own hours. We were all very sad he was gone and not a day went by that we didn't look for him and call him to see if he'd come home. We figured he'd run into bad luck with a coyote or something along those lines. About 10 days went by... ...and then he just walked up the back steps onto the deck. He was home. But he was thin as a rail. Ratty. Starving. He pretty much looked like death warmed over. You could feel his skeleton right through his skin. Our poor boy was so sick and I wasn't sure he was going to be okay. The time he was gone also happened to be during the heat wave we had here. We'll always wonder where he was while he was gone and why he obviously wasn't eating. There are some vacant homes for sale in the neighborhood and we think maybe he got trapped inside a garage or home when it was being shown and couldn't get out. Poor boy. After coming home, Willie ate and slept and snuggled with us every chance he got and he's become a healthy boy again. It only takes a few scratches behind the ears and he starts purring and kneading his big paws. So, we now have our inside princess (Molly) and our outdoor boy. They have "conversations" at the screen, but they aren't allowed to hang out together because Willie can't spend much time inside since he clearly was never introduced to a litter box (I tried...he freaks!) and Molly isn't allowed outside. So that's that. It's kind of funny though that they look so similar...almost like brother and sister. He seems to only be able to handle being inside for maybe an hour at the most (he likes to watch TV with us on the couch) before he gets restless and has to head back out to his stomping grounds. This one though...she's quite comfortable anywhere in the house. Exhibit A: Within a minute of my starting to set the table for Thanksgiving dinner. Not exactly the centerpiece I had in mind! Exhibit B: I set this wreath on the kitchen counter and within a minute, she was investigating and ended up camping out there for awhile. So while Molly likes to act like she doesn't care about Willie, her actions show otherwise. (Don't you just love the elusive "kitty tongue shot?") Here she is watching him sleep through the glass. That's his Winter hut. I know he's an outdoor kitty and it's obvious he's survived living outside in the elements in the past. I don't care...he needs a nice, warm, insulated little hut if he's going to live here! And he loves it. I lined it with eggcrate and a pillow and put some blankets and a down comforter in there. He burrows in spends a lot of his time in it. And on it! He's a good boy. And look at how he's filled out! No more skinny boy. We're getting him fattened up for the winter. Like I said, he loves to come in for a little while every night and spend quality time with the family. But then he heads out to his hut when he really wants to get comfy. And that is the story to date of our Willie Lunchmeat.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Hello? Tap...tap....Anyone out there?
Honestly, I wouldn't blame you if you'd decided to delete your bookmarks for my little blog here. I've not been good about updating it and for that, I am sorry. Really, I am.  However, we've been really busy in these parts. We've played A LOT of volleyball and thrown A LOT of bowling balls. And we were there to watch all of those balls being hit and thrown! Wouldn't miss my kids doing their thing for anything!

So, having said that (Curb Your Enthusiam....anyone???) I will attempt to get back on the blogging bandwagon and fill y'all in. But first, my peace offering:

I'm making this today.  I mentioned that I was making a Chocolate Silk Pie for dessert today and the crowd went wild! My friends on Facebook requested pie sent their way! There was drool on keyboards at the mere mention of it. So, my offering is this little photo of heavenly goodness. Just take it in for a moment. I'll wait.

You're welcome

This picture isn't from today, since that one still isn't made.  Because I like to procrastinate. Plennnnty of time to make the pie. No, this one is from this past summer at Ken & Danette's company picnic at Bow Lake. They have a dessert contest every year and while I'm not the best baker, I do enjoy a challenge. Last year's offering was Double Cream Cheesecake.  And it won.  This year, I decided to make the Chocolate Silk Pie.  And it won.  And frankly, I was a little bit embarrassed, because....well, because there are always a lot of decadent, yummy, beautiful desserts and I felt guilty to win two years in a row.  But honestly....the Chocolate Silk Pie is THAT good.  It is not good FOR you, but it is so good for the soul!  So there.

We are hunkering down at home today.  Cooking and baking and watching football.  Yayyy!

I also must take this moment to wish a Happy Birthday yesterday to Missy Laura!!!  And to wish a Happy Birthday today to the lovely Erica!!!!  Erica is a dancer and I just think this is the coolest photo ever!

Erica leaping1

We PNW Liebels hope this day finds you all happy and healthy!  We have so much to be thankful for in our lives and wish the same for you. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Fun Week...

We had the pleasure of having our niece and nephew (Glen's kids) stay with us this past week as they relocate from Scottsdale allllll the way up to Anchorage! Glen is taking over as the Executive Chef of the Anchorage Sheraton. They arrived on Saturday and Glen headed out with Jasmine the dog as his co-pilot for a 4-day journey in the car.

Due to some camera shyness, I didn't take a lot of pictures of my houseguests this week. I didn't want them to feel like I was documenting every minute of their stay, so we just lived life in the moment. But this is a shot I just had to have: Allison and Cody (October 9, 2009)

If you're going to come visit us in Seattle, chances are you're going to take the 41 second elevator ride to the top of the Space Needle. And then you're going to pose for me with the beautiful view in the background. There's no getting around it.

It was a tad cloudy for us on Friday, but it was still pretty. Hayley was off school, so she went with us. We toyed with the idea of heading over to Pike Place Market, but we knew we didn't have time. Before leaving the Needle, I did manage to talk the kids into posing for one of my favorite shots. Trust me: The only way to get this shot is to lay on the ground and have the subjects practically stand on top of me. They thought they looked stupid, but I believe I was the one laying on the ground!! Yesss, yesss. (Spoken in true Stewie fashion!)

Cody and Allison have been such troopers this week. They've cheered at two of Hayley's volleyball matches that frankly did not go so well and sat through two of Brian's bowling matches (they went better.) I dragged them with me on mundane errands, but we managed to get some serious shopping goals met! Cody and I finally tracked down a sharpening stone (from an old man in the mall that tried so hard to disuade us from buying one!) and then Cody sharpened my knives (even though the old man said he wouldn't be able to do it. Take THAT old man!) Dan and Cody planted a tree and Allison and I sewed pajama pants. Top Chef Cody wowed us with his Banana's Foster and they both fell in love with Willie Lunchmeat and Abby. And Josie Grandma, for the record, Cody agrees that Molly is a big barrel kitty! And she is not amused. We even took the kids to Mass tonight and then we all pigged out at Mongolian Hot Iron Grill before heading home for Drumsticks and a super funny game of Scattergories. (World Leader Bo Bice anyone? Historical figure Prince...yeah, Little Red Corvette Prince? Apple Schmear as a sport? How about the Liberty Statue? Meal-making as a hobby? Ping Pong Showdown...teethguard...karpool, krak and Khloe Kardashian? Anybody...anyone???) Oh my goodness, there was some serious laughing at the game table tonight.

So, tomorrow we've planned a huge farewell breakfast: Diane's scratch pancakes, bacon and sausage (because who can really decide between the two??) and eggs. Coffee, natch. We'll get the kids packed up and head down to Seatac. I don't want to say goodbye to my "kids" but I will. Facebook enables us to keep in touch in an instant and besides, they're starting a new adventure in their new home. We wish Glen, Cody and Allison the best of luck and they know they're always welcome to stay with us again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It’s a BIG DAY in these parts…


Today is Hayley’s first day of school! Yep, she’s had a nice long summer and has been banking sleep hours in preparation for what is coming up…and that would be lots of homework and lots of volleyball!

Hayley has opted to take part in a school program called ORCA. It is part of the Running Start program in which high school Juniors and Seniors can earn college credits while earning their high school diploma. Instead of attending classes at the high school, Hayley will drive down to Mukilteo for her classes Monday thru Thursday (Fridays, too, though there are no classes…just occasional field trips and study time at the campus.) Then after school, she will zoom up to the high school for volleyball (either practice or matches.) This is a pretty intense school program and we’ve been warned that the homework load will be big. However, our girl thrives on challenge and is ready to take on this one!


After all, she’s seventeen now! We’ve been very busy with life lately, so I didn’t get a chance to update about the big 1-7. Hayley had her first volleyball match of the season that night over at South Whidbey. While the match didn’t go our way, we still celebrated Hayley’s birthday on the way home…with cupcakes on the ferry!


Chocolate with buttercream and white with strawberry icing. YUM. And yes…that is a Cupcake “H” for Hayley! The entire Lakewood High volleyball squad got off the bus and came up to the seating area to line the way for Hayley as they sang Happy Birthday! So sweet…they are truly an awesome group of girls!


Speaking of volleyball, check out this article in the Marysville Globe. (Hayley’s jersey number is #1 when you look at the slideshow.) Pretty exciting times around here. It was our 20th wedding anniversary that day to boot! We’re awfully proud of the young lady our little girl has grown into. And for the record (because people always ask!) she’s almost 6’…so when she’s rockin’ the heels, she’s standing a proud 6’3” to 6’4”. You go Glen Coco!! (Come on…name that movie!)


Unfortunately, I still can’t take a decent volleyball action shot so you’re probably only going to get written summaries…or shots like the one above! That was taken during pre-match warm-up and you’ll have to trust me that it was Hayley killing the ball!

Tonight, Hayley gets to play against one of her best friends, Hannah. (Hi Hannah!) She goes to a different school, but the girls have played Club ball together for two years now. It should be a fun night!


So, now that Hayley is back to school, I feel like Autumn is finally here. There is a briskness in the air, though we are due for temps in the 80’s this week!

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oh Nine Oh One Oh Nine

Isn’t that a cool date? I think so. In these parts, that means its time to head back to school. Brian obliged me with a First Day of School photo. Is it me or have my First Day of School photos gotten much more….casual? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A refresher:

Ready for school

Can you stand it? My heart just melted. A lot.

Okay, back to 09-01-09. In case you’re wondering where Hayley is in the current photo, don’t worry. I didn’t forget to take her picture. She didn’t want to be in the photo because this isn’t her first day of school. She doesn’t start school until September 21st because she is attending a program called ORCA through Everett Community College and will be on the college schedule. Since Brian had a delayed start this morning due to freshman orientation, Hayley decided to drive him to school.


Isn’t that sweet?

So, after watching 2/3 of my heart drive away, I walked back into the house to find this:


and this:


Both of them wondering what’s up that the house is empty. (By the way, Uncle Pat is here for a visit so he and Dan went out for Round 2 of their golf odyssey.)

Willie was worried, too:


Or maybe not. Our Wills tends to come and go as he pleases. He sauntered home this morning (after I hollered for him to get his butt home) and ate some breakfast and went off to the woods again. We don’t know what he does out there, but we did find remains little fluffy fur bits out in the yard, so one can only imagine!

I know I never finished my update on Willie. My “teaser” post, if you will. We’ve been busy around here and I will get to it this week. Don’t worry though. All is well with Mr. Willie Lunchmeat.


I mean, does this look like an unhappy kitty to you?

(Josie Grandma, Willie really likes your pretty cushions!)

Have a fabulous day!