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.