Holiday Cocktail 2: Hot Spiked Apple Cider

holiday cocktail hot spiked apple cider the laine list I love this hot spiked apple cider recipe. It’s simple, easy to make ahead and keep warm in the crock pot, and it’s PERFECT for cold Winter days! Make this without the alcohol and add that on a per-drink basis so it is kid friendly!

The Ingredients

1 gallon of cider

1 package of mulling mix

sliced apples

2 oz Bourbon (per mug filled about 3/4 full)

The Method

Simply add the cider and mulling mix to the crock pot and heat on low for a couple of hours. Before your guests arrive, float the apple slices on the top. Serve in mugs with our without the alcohol, and with a slice of warm apple!

As always, enjoy responsibly, and happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Cocktail: Orange Cranberry Mist

Orange Cranberry Mist Holiday Cocktail The Laine ListThis delicious holiday cocktail is a little on the sweet side, and a lot on the be careful how much you drink because it sneaks up on you!

Be sure to chill all ingredients beforehand!

The Ingredients

1 oz orange flavored vodka
1 oz triple sec
2 oz Cranberry Sierra Mist
Limes
Oranges
Frozen cranberries
Ice

The Method

Mix vodka and triple sec over ice and strain into a glass. Add the 2 oz of Sierra Mist, a healthy squeeze of lime and stir gently. Garnish with any combination of lime, orange, and frozen cranberries. The cranberries are pretty and they keep the drink cold.
Enjoy responsibly!

Christmas Tree Magic

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of getting a Christmas tree. The funny thing is even thought I am approximately eight and twelve years older than my sisters, I don’t really remember getting a tree before they were born.

Kids make Christmas fun!

We always cut our own trees. There was ALWAYS snow, so we bundled up in snow pants, boots, hats and mittens. Mittens were doubled up because they did double duty. Not only did they keep your hands warm, but they were also used to put on top of the trees, as a signal that tree is in the running to be “the one.”
Ready to go, we would make the happy trek to Hunt’s Tree Farm on the other side of town. We always found the perfect tree and watched in wonder as dad, dressed always in jeans and a Carhart jacket, wiped away the snow with his boot, lay on the ground, and cut down the tree.
GO DAD GO!
My husband and I have had a tree since the first year we lived together. We have found our perfect trees in a number of ways. We have gone alone to cut our own, tagged along with family to cut together, paid too much in an overly-lit lot. While always fun, and always special, there was always something missing.
I don’t remember where we got our tree the first year we had Ben. But I know the year after we started going to a tiny little tree farm down the road. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. It doesn’t even have a name! There isn’t more than a couple of acres of property, and you have to walk behind the owner’s house, through his back yard, and around his gardens to get to the trees. But it’s so homey, and the owner so welcoming, you don’t mind. I love going there.
The first year we took Ben, when he was about 20-ish months old, we had a ton of snow! We pulled him around the hilly farm on a sled as we searched for the “Griffin Family Christmas Tree.” He laughed and ate snow, and we found the perfect tree, and daddy kicked the snow away with his boot and lay on the ground to cut.
GO DAD GO!
The second year we took him there was even more snow. While daddy strapped the tree to the top of the car, I sat Ben in a snow bank and snapped silly pictures of him.
We have continued the tradition with Genevieve, although it was only her first year that we had snow, and it was only a little bit. But she has enjoyed our trips to the tree farm, and her brother showing her the ropes. One thing about there being no snow, is you can really tear through the farm, racing from tree to tree to inspect them. Or, in her case, hug them and tell them you love them. We have a pine tree hugger on our hands, folks.
This year the trees are looking a little sparse at our little farm. I’m a creature of habit, and so I’m worried about what we will do next year, as I think they will need another year to become perfect trees. I’m going to shelve that worry though, because I know no matter where we get a tree, we will be together. Creating memories. Creating magic. Them for us as much as us for them.

Kids make Christmas magical.

cutting down the Chrismas tree
GO DAD GO!

Where do you find Christmas magic?

DIY Kahlua: A Perfect Host or Hostest Gift

Kahlua recipe from The Laine ListThis Kahlua recipe is also from my grandmother’s recipe box. It is easy to make, and when poured into mason jars and wrapped with some pretty ribbon, it is an economical host or hostess gift.

Kahlua from Gram’s friend, Ruth Baird.

The Ingredients:

2 and a half cups of sugar (I actually use a little less)
1/2 cup of instant coffee (the granules)
2 cups boiling water
2 cups vodka
1 whole vanilla bean

The Process:

Put vanilla bean in water and heat. Combine sugar, coffee, and water. Stir until combined and cool. Add vodka and store in the refrigerator for up to 30 days. Enjoy responsibly!

Would you like to receive this host/hostess gift?

It’s 2012, and I have a holiday hangover

Holiday Hangover by photosur on Flickr
Holiday Hangover by photosur on Flickr

What have you all doing this week between Christmas and the New Year? I’m have been trying – and succeeding in doing as little as possible. My husband always has the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, so I really take it for granted that everyone else does, too. It’s really easy to be in a little bubble, forgetting the rest of the world exists. It feels really good to do that, too, and not give in to the everyday worries I am always plagued with. Now I just hope that my last couple of weeks of lazing hasn’t made me, well, lazy!

Here is what we’ve done all week:

I think we have managed to play all of the new Wii and board games the boy got for Christmas.

We have managed to keep all the pieces away from the baby with the grown-man reaching arms.

We also have played with every new gadget.

My hubs practically bought a whole new wardrobe with his gift cards.

I have read half of one of my new books about Roller Derby. I know, only half. But, in just a few days?! HUGE accomplishment for me. I never get any reading time.

I have dreamed about Roller Derby. I was hoping to go skating sometime this week, but that didn’t work out. We didn’t have a babysitter for the wee one, plus there is no place to skate in Ithaca. What’s up with that, anyway?!

I’ve actually done a little work, had a face to face meeting, and a phone meeting with potential clients.

I’ve done a little thinking about how I want 2012 to go, both personally and professionally.

We’ve eaten a lot of yummy food. We’ve drank a lot.

One night I even slept for 10 hours.

In general, we’ve relaxed. So much so, that I think I have a holiday hangover, which will be solved only by a semi-traditional good luck New Year’s day turkey dinner.

What have you all been up to? How are you greeting 2012?

Missing my Gram: finding the light in the dark

My gram
My gram, as a girl

My grandmother had a stroke on a Friday.

I know that because I know she held court the night before and went to bed like normal. She was a judge, you see, bringing justice to the fine people in the Town of Ulysses.

That Thursday was a crazy one, as Thursdays could be, as they were my errand day. Many Thursdays, after grocery shopping, I drove the 11 or so miles to her house to hang out and have lunch. Not that Thursday, though, because we had the electric and gas company out to give us a digital meter. For some reason I was required to be here, even though it meant they had to shut off our power AND water. So here I was, unloading my groceries while my 18-month old happily ate lunch, and I recounted the events of the meter switch to my grandmother over the phone. And I kept going over to the damn sink to wash my hands. No water!

“You don’t realize how hard it is to live without water until you don’t have it! I keep going over to the sink to wash my hands,” I said.

“Oh I know it! Uh oh, I have another call. It looks like Tom, I need to talk to him before court tonight.” Tom is the Chief of Police.

“Okay, I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Love you gram!”

“Love you too honey girl.”

And that was that. The last words we ever spoke to each other.

And so now here I am, four (FOUR?!) years later, finally emerging from the dark. And I didn’t think I could write about this, because it was too painful, too much. And I’m just not that kind of blogger. And UGH, all these people posting what they are thankful for on Facebook and on their blogs. Give me a break!

“I DON’T CARE, GET IT?! NOVEMBER SUCKS FOR MY FAMILY! IN FACT THE HOLIDAYS SUCK FOR MOST PEOPLE, PROBABLY YOU TOO SO STOP FAKING IT!”

Wow. I need to move past this.

So I’m trying to see how my pain can be turned into joy and thankfulness. A lesson for me and maybe others. I KNOW that my Gram doesn’t want us to dwell in this terrible place. She wants us to live on for her – for US! If we can’t, then she will think she did not do a good job with us. So this year I am thankful for all the lessons she taught me, and I’m finally ready to share them. Here are a few, in no particular order.

You should always have your own money. There are a lot of reasons why. Mostly, you just should.

You can love people for a lot of reasons, and you should spread your love and offer what you have to those in need. You never know when you make the difference in someone’s life.

Maintain your integrity when you are mad/sad/hurt. Don’t act like a fool, and you will earn and keep the respect of those around you.

Be strong, even in your lowest moment. Stare adversity in the eye, hike up your big girl panties and get on with it. She was often telling me, “Get a grip girl!” And she was ALWAYS right.

It is okay to sacrifice for your family, as long as you don’t sacrifice too much of yourself, for you are the glue that holds it together.

In life and death she taught me that justice is subjective. Laws and justice are two different animals. Follow the law, question justice.

She taught me how to cook. First by watching Julia Child with me when I was a little girl, and then as I grew. She taught me how to prepare some of our favorite recipes, which I love to share and prepare for the rest of my family.

She taught me how to be a lady AND a woman. A lady minds her words and doesn’t smoke out on the street. A woman doesn’t let anyone push her around. Be both.

I’m learning to live without water.

“Gram, thank you for teaching me how to get through the drought.”

“You’re welcome honey girl.”

Holiday traditions part 1

Elf on a Shelf
We love holiday traditions, new and old!

This week on our podcast, Kate and Laine’s Ultimate Podcast, we are gearing up for the holidays and discussing our favorites, like shopping, food, music, etc. In preparation for recording the podcast, I thought it might be nice to outline some of my holiday favorites. So here we go:

Favorite place to shop – local, green, great deals, and online: I like to shop as much as I can in Downtown Ithaca.  I also like to buy music for people on Funkyside. I honestly don’t do a lot of green shopping. I love to shop at Target, and I USED to shop at Borders online but alas, no more. Mainly, though, my big shopping joy comes from remembering something obscure someone said and then making their dream come true!

Where is your favorite place to shop?

Favorite traditions: My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is that my family celebrates on Saturday after Thanksgiving. It really eases the stress of the day, since many of us have more than one family to visit. This is a win-win situation for everyone because we can all enjoy our time together without rushing around. My favorite Christmas tradition is actually making breakfast. After we exchange our gifts we ladies (and sometimes the gents) all gather in the kitchen to make breakfast together. They guys hang out and the kids play with their new toys and argue. It’s so fun to just cook and chat and then EAT! And chat. SO FUN!

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Favorite foods: I think my favorite Thanksgiving food is dressing with gravy on it. And squash. And cranberry sauce, both homemade and canned. I’m not really sure, I love it all! I’m not sure what my favorite Christmas food is. I guess cookies, and also anything we have for Christmas dinner because it generally involves some sort of large cut of beef and a lot of sides. Remember this post? This is what I’m thinking for Christmas dinner this year – not to be freaky, it won’t be my last meal!

What are your favorite holiday foods?

Favorite music: Man, this is a hard one!! I love all the children’s classics. James Taylor Christmas, Boston Pops, Bing Crosby. I also have a new Jackson Five CD I bought on Borders clearance last year that I am ready to bust out. I’m sure it will be great. This is getting me psyched – I think I’m going to have to start listening to holiday music today!

What is your favorite holiday music? When do you start listening?

Favorite movies: All of the children’s classics – Peanuts, Rudolf, Frosty, Jack Frost, etc. Elf! National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It’s a Wonderful Life. LOVE THEM!

What are your favorite holiday movies?

Favorite new tradition: Elf on a Shelf!

Do you have any new favorite traditions?

Now I’m super pscyhed for the holidays!

Do you have any holiday favorites? I want to hear them and feature them on future blog posts and on this week’s podcast!