Season’s Greetings from Leonardo and Cory

It’s not worth asking how these photos happened. Let’s call it a Christmas miracle. Joseph helped me prop them up on boxes in front of the Christmas tree, which was highly confusing, and then we made all sorts of strange noises to keep their attention. The end result was so much better than we could have predicted!

I took photos of Leonardo first, and he purred the entire time. I don’t know if he just likes the attention or what. After a few minutes when we were about done he made one small meow, as if to ask if he could get down now, and then jumped down and walked off after I consented.

I’m amazed I was able to get these photos and am incredibly impressed with their expressions! Look how full of hope they are! We loved these so much we sent them out as our Christmas card, which I imagine some of our family members found strange. But most of the envelopes were addressed to cats or dogs, so it’s okay.

I have been getting a lot of grief for not including our beloved Lazar Wolf in the portrait session, but he is stressed out too easily to handle. Can this crude photoshop make up for it? He is obviously overflowing with warm thoughts of the holiday season.

Anniversary #5

Joseph and I celebrated our 5th anniversary last week! Also known as the day a lot of people lose bets because they have no faith in a 19 year old marrying a 25 year old (honestly, who could blame them?).

Although the date feels kind of arbitrary–it was picked for convenience alone, and since we got married by proxy while he was in Iraq, we didn’t even see each other until almost a month later–it reminds us of all we’ve done together. We adopted a few animals, took the trip of a lifetime to Egypt, moved to Italy and then back to Texas, and even survived a horrible and poorly-planned winter drive through the Dolomites without snow chains (a trip that took 8+ hours instead of the 3 hours we anticipated).

Joseph surprised me with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers, plus two pounds of chocolate caramels!

A few days later something else arrived–a beautiful sapphire necklace from Angara. You know jewelry is too fancy for you when the box holding it has its own light.

Needless to say, Joseph has much better taste in jewelry than I do, which I really appreciate it. If it weren’t for him all my accessories would be in the shape of various animals or pinecones or something (which I still have plenty of, of course).

A Deck With a View (& a Video)

My very last post about our Disney Cruise. You can see them all here.

Disney has an amazing marketing team. Last week we received a paper-framed magnetic photo of our ship. It is the lone item on the front of our refrigerator. And it came at the perfect time–just when we’re really getting tired of our day-to-days again. And Disney Cruise Line commercials have just started playing on Hulu.

I can’t tell you how much time we spent on Deck 4 looking over the water. Look at all those beautiful colors!

I took periodic videos with my little FlipHD camera and edited them together when I got home. Joseph bought me the little camera after I kept wishing I could make videos while we were in Egypt. This is the first time I really got to use it for traveling!

I did not intend for this to so closely resemble a romantic movie’s montage. And I definitely didn’t intend it to make people cry. Sorry about that.

Disney Cruise 2012 from Alyssa Young on Vimeo.

A Warm Season

I love the colder seasons. I love leaves falling and crinkling under my feet and the months of soft sunlight. I love the frigid air everyone else seems to hate and being welcomed inside by a mound of cozy blankets and hot chocolate.

But I’ve had my air conditioner rather than my heater running every day this December. Granted, we’re only four days in, but that’s still something. Joseph and I set up our Christmas tree while it was 82°F outside. We’re at least trying to believe that it will eventually be winter.

I pulled out my homemade (construction paper) heart bokeh lens hood for this one.

I knit these stockings last year but was so tired of looking at them I put them away mid-December. I decided to add the finishing touches and finally hang them up this year.

I made pumpkin ice cream for Thanksgiving using this recipe. I actually bought author David Lebovit’s book, The Perfect Scoop, over the summer and had marked up all the recipes I couldn’t wait to try. But three days later I somehow lost in in my house, and it has yet to turn up…

Joseph’s 30th birthday was last weekend. Happy birthday, old man! Too bad our devoted cat is so apathetic towards our celebrations.

I’ll spare you the details of the house decorations, but you can see more photos from Christmas 2010 and Christmas 2011.

Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk pie has become one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes since my parents first introduced me to it two years ago. We made five pies that Thanksgiving (and there were only five of us)–two pecan, two buttermilk, and one pumpkin cream. The buttermilk pie was the definite winner.

I didn’t expect to like this because I’m not at all a fan of buttermilk. I actually don’t like milk at all and can’t bring myself to drink it. This is how I rank different forms of milk, with the first being the best (but still disgusting): whole milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, buttermilk.

But buttermilk pie… buttermilk pie heaven-sent. It’s a rich custard-like Texan specialty. I can’t believe I went so long without it. Buttermilk pie is replacing pumpkin pie for me from now on–it’s as easy to make but with a much more interesting taste. This year I’ll be trying the recipe from Lisa Fain’s Homesick Texan.

Buttermilk Pie
Yield: 8 servings

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 tablespoon cornmeal)
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), softened
3 large eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 piecrust

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the piecrust into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Combine the sugar with the flour and cornmeal, if you’re using. Cream the butter. Add the sugar mixture to the butter and then stir in the eggs, salt, buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla extract and vinegar.

Pour filling into the partially baked piecrust and bake in the oven uncovered until brown on top and the custard has set, about 45-50 minutes.

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