What’s Today???by Angie

15 Dec 2008
12:12 pm

This morning, my darling husband woke me up saying, “Do you want your surprise?  Do you want your birthday present?”  When I got my blurry eyes open and mumbled something silly in the affirmative, he told me to look under my pillow.  There was a slip of paper that read:

“I have a tongue, but do not taste; I’m glad – it’d be unpleasant.

I have a ‘soul,’ and so I’d like to help you find your present.”

…which led me to my closet, where I found another clue stuck in my right tennis shoe, which led me downstairs, which led me to the cat, which led me to Mr. B, which led me to the clock, which led me to the TV…behind which was a large package wrapped in brown paper:

I got a Wii Fit!  I’m so excited!  Jim made me breakfast, too, and then headed off to work while I started playing.  The little animated balance board even put on a birthday hat and tossed some confetti around, since today is my birthday!  Amazingly, my “fitness age” was 29…which isn’t my real age…but pretty close!  I thought that was pretty cool, considering the last time I tried a Wii fit, it guaged me at 64 or something.  I guess my Pilates is working even better than I thought!  Anyway, I love it!  Thank you, Jim!  And, thanks to my friends and family for all the warm wishes via phone, email, Gchat, facebook, Geni, etc.!

My New Toyby Angie

11 Feb 2008
12:02 pm

I got a present from Jason for Jim’s Birthday 🙂

You see, Jason and I were discussing what Jim might want for his birthday and I mentioned that he’s kind of sort of maybe saving up for an iPod Touch, so money toward that might be nice. Jason asked if Jim might like an iPod Shuffle, but I said no, it was the calender and other stuff that he wanted more than just a music player…why? Well, Jason had received a free iPod ShuffleShuffle as part of a rebate package and didn’t know what to do with it, since he already has an iPhone. We discussed the prospective usage of a “little” – 1G – iPod with no touch screen or display and I said it would be great for listening to audio books or music on walks or while gardening… Long story short, Jason decided that I should have it! Sure enough, he brought it this weekend and walked me though setup and downloading iTunes and all that jazz.

Well, now I have an apology to make to my sisters and cousin for having given them flack about iPods and iTunes: I have a real aversion to proprietary hardware and software and formats, so I never jumped on the iEverything bandwagon. Anyway, I humbly admit that I really love my little Shuffle and it’s super cool and I’m very glad to have it. I’ve already been to the library to borrow some audio books (that I will delete when I return the CDs) and “Emma” by Jane Austen has made it onto my iPod first.

An Anniversary Giftby Angie

31 Dec 2007
1:12 pm

I’m very sorry we haven’t posted much since coming to visit Utah. I hope to do some catching-up later this week. In the mean-time… Yesterday was our Wedding Anniversary, and I’d like to share a sweet gift we received from Jim’s sister, Rachel, in honor of it:

Cookie Jar

She sent this illustration to us, with this title: “Love is a Full Cookie Jar.” Thank you so much, Rachel, for your thoughtful gift!

To see more of Rachel’s art, feel free to visit her homepage: Lady Rachel’s Garden.

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Here Comes Santa Claus!by Angie

19 Dec 2007
10:12 pm

Jim and I made jam this week so we could take jars of it to our friends for Christmas. Today, I got them all decorated and super cute so that tonight we could deliver them. When we pulled up at the Coolbears’ house, we saw Brother & Sister Coolbear and their daughter Kayla, along with another girl her age, walking down the sidewalk! We pulled up and told them we had come to bring them a Christmas treat, and they invited us to join them in caroling to another family in the ward who lives across the street. We parked the car, climbed out, gave them their jam, and followed them to the Allens’ house. They told us to sing “Jingle Bells” and then just the first line of “Here comes Santa Claus.” Well, we rang the doorbell, and when Sister Allen answered, we all sang a slightly out of tune but enthusiastic rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Then, as instructed, we sang the first line of “Here Comes Santa Claus”…and Santa himself came running up the walk from behind us!

We were all invited inside, where Santa made himself at home in a big chair, and asked, “Is there a ‘Carter’ in this house?” and then asked for each family member by name, at which point they would go sit on his knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Santa would check his list and give them a little gift. After both Sister and Brother Allen had taken a turn, Santa then said, “Is there an ‘Angela’ in this house?” I looked around, thinking there was a daughter I had missed…but after a beat, I realized that everyone was looking at me!

So, yes, I got to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas, and so did Jim. We said we wanted to fly to Utah and visit our families and see my cousin get married, and he said he could arrange that.  That Santa is pretty amazing – now we’re at home, packing for the trip to Utah we asked for!  🙂

St. Mikulás Dayby Angie

6 Dec 2007
10:12 pm

ShoesJaquie and her new mouseSt. Mikulás visited our house and – since we have been very good children – left our shoes full of presents! We got DVDs and popcorn and hot chocolate and candy, and Jaquie got new toys that she adores. Her favorite is a set of three catnip mice – Jim detached one little mouse from the cardboard and she went crazy playing with it, and a few minutes later was trying to get the other two mice out of his shoe, where he had set them aside! We got a picture of her attacking the mouse, but when we tried to get a video of it, she stopped and walked away in a huff.

We had our Mikulás Feast last night because tonight we had choir rehearsal. I made cider and soft ginger cookies to share with everyone, in honor of it being St. Mikulás Day, and we got to tell everyone about the Hoffmans’ traditions and background. Everybody was pleased with the treats and very grateful, and I enjoyed doing it but…note to self: don’t try cooking big meals and treats for 60 people two days in a row. I am exhausted, and my poor kitchen looks like a whirlwind waltzed through it.

Mikulás Feast (and Try-Me-Night!)by Angie

5 Dec 2007
9:12 pm

Today was wonderful! I spent – literally – most of the day preparing for this evening’s Mikulás Feast. We invited our friends, the Bradleys, to join us and I planned to make five dishes – three of which, I’d never made before! Jim’s favorite part of the traditional feast is the Ham Stack, so I had to go to a specialty meat market this morning to buy ground ham (because a regular supermarket butcher is not allowed to grind both raw and cooked meats). The gentlemen at Kelly’s Meat Market were so helpful and pleasant! Anyway, besides that, I already had all my shopping done, so I could go home and get right to work. Here was our menu:

Our Mikulás FeastA 16-layer Ham Stack – Alternating layers of palacsintas (kind of like crepes) with a mixture of ham in bechamel sauce. I’ve helped with this one in past years, so it was familiar. I made the ingredients and Jim stacked it up.

Voros Kaposzta – Red cabbage, braised in butter & vinegar. Kristyn took over for me on this one and it turned out great! Well, those who like red cabbage thought it was great.

Kathy’s Goulash – Beef in a sour cream red sauce over hot buttered pasta. This is a regular favorite at our house, especially because it cooks in the crock pot all day and is super easy.

Krumpli Nudli – Potato noodles rolled in breadcrumbs. These are a lot of work! I know, I was forewarned . . . but Jim loves them, so I thought I’d give them a try. By the time I was done rolling the noodles, I thought my arms were going to fall off! They tasted wonderful, though, so I’m afraid I’ll be making them again in the future. 🙂

Hungarian Stuffed Peppers – Bell peppers filled with meat, rice, and aromatics. This was not one of the traditional dishes Jim grew up with, but I wanted to try it. This link goes to the original recipe, but (of course) I played around with it a bit. Instead of ground meat, I used kielbasa (polish sausage) and it was delicious! The recipe also calls for “paprika gravy,” which looked pretty strange to me, not to mention huge…so I changed that a lot. I left out the anaheims, only used 2 cups of beef stock (instead of 6), and a few tablespoons of corn starch (instead of 3/4 cup flour). I ended up with a tangy, creamy paprika gravy that we used on our peppers, with plenty left over. It was also great on the krumpli nudlis, actually.

The Cooks of the Mikulás Feast!

After dinner, Jim read us the Mikulás chaper from Kate Seredy’s “The Good Master.” Kathy will be gratified to know that the very same parts that always make her cry got Jim a tad choked up, too. When he finished, we discovered that Mikulás had left treats in the Bradleys’ shoes, which we had set out on the windowsill! Their two-year-old daughter, Emily, loves toy cars, so that was her present. She played with them while Jim & Justin played Guitar Hero and Kristyn & I played with little Maddie (and chased Emily around). When it was time to go, Emily was pleasantly surprised to learn that she really got to keep the cars and take them home! All in all, it was a wonderful evening. I’m glad our first Mikulás Feast was such a great success!

Christmas Decorationsby Angie

4 Dec 2007
10:12 pm

Christmas TreeJim and I weren’t going to buy a Christmas tree this year, since we will be spending the holidays in Utah… but as I was planning for our St. Mikulás Day Hungarian Feast, I just felt like we needed some decorations to accompany our festivities. I was going to Target anyway, so I bought the tree on sale, and just cheap little lights and ornaments… it was only about $20 in all, but it looks quite pretty all put together (if I do say so myself)!

So, here are some pictures of our lovely little tree. Look, there are already some presents under it! Those are actually Mikulás gifts: some are going into our friends’ shoes during our Mikulás dinner, and the package on the right is from the Hoffman Mikulás in Utah, for Jim and me.

Jim & the Tree

In the picture on the right, you can see where the tree is set up. I know it doesn’t look like a fantastic spot, but we don’t really have a fantastic spot for a tree this size – it either hides or gets in the way (hm…sounds like I’m talking about a pet ferret or something).

I also included this picture of Jim (playing Guitar Hero), so you can see how tiny a three-foot tree looks beside a six-foot person. Small, but sure cute! Hey, like me!