Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas 2008 and looking towards 2009

Christmas 2008 has come and gone. I was able to enjoy time with my family, especially my sweet little nephew. He had grown so much in just the two weeks since I had last seen him! He was much more responsive to his surroundings, and that included some cute little smiles. He did cry much more than before, but I’m sure that’s just because he needs a little bit more. He is healthy and putting on weight, and I just am quite fond of the little guy. Once again, my furry kids did well with him, and here is proof:

Other than that, it was a fairly low key Christmas. The family did look pretty snazzy on Christmas Eve:
We had some good food, and I made a pumpkin pie, to include crust, completely without adding any fat or eggs!! Here is the recipe. I think it is something I shall make again, though not sure when. It was TASTY.

Pumpkin Pie
Make this the day before serving. It's needs a day to set.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Have ready, one 9" pie crust (see below recipe)

1 15oz. solid-pack canned pumpkin
1 c. milk (I use Soy Milk, worked great, non-dairy)
3/4 c. brown sugar or Sucanat (sucanat is natural, unrefined sugar--good stuff!)
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 T. molasses or blackstrap molasses
1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. EACH ground ginger, nutmeg and salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice or cloves
Pour the filling into the pastry and bake 60 minutes. Cool on a rack, then refrigerate overnight before serving.

Fat-Free Oatmeal Cookie Crust
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sucanat (or packed brown sugar)
2 tablespoons natural sugar (organic or sucanat or brown sugar, whatever you didn't use above)1/4 cup apple sauce
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Lightly oil a 9-inch pie pan. (I used Pam)
Put the oats into a food processor or blender and process until finely ground. Add the remaining dry ingredients and blend well. Transfer to a bowl and add the vanilla and apple sauce. Stir well until completely combined.Put the mixture into the pie pan, and starting at the center, flatten and press it with moistened fingers until it evenly covers the bottom and extends up the sides of the pan as far as possible. Bake for 8-10 minutes, and then let cool before pouring the pie filling.

I did see two movies over the break: Australia and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I will say that I got my money’s worth out of each movie. With previews, they both were about 3 hours long! However, I thoroughly enjoyed both of them as well. They were slightly long, but I never felt like it was horribly boring or ridiculous. Australia is a fun drama movie with added comedy, and I’m a fan of “period” movies and think Nicole Kidman does well in those roles. Hugh Jackman is, well, VERY good looking in the movie. My brother said he thought Jackman was “too big” as far as the muscles go, but I completely disagree! J Benjamin Button was an interesting concept and fun film to watch and imagine “what if” it actually happened. I’d recommend watching both of them, but beware that they are LONG and plan accordingly!

I am ready for 2009 to get here. There are some big things happening in 2009: my parents moving to the cold, Yankee north; I get to experience training for and racing the Boston Marathon and Ironman Florida; I will hopefully have an idea of what my future holds as far as grad school goes, which means I will probably be diligently studying to improve my GMAT or GRE scores (dependent upon which options open my way); lastly, but not least, 2009 will see the bulk of my “command time” where I can truly make a difference now that I’ve established processes and built the systems that I need for success. I have, what I think, are some good ideas to improve the training effectiveness and readiness of my Soldiers…now I have to translate those into reality, and that of course is where the challenge exists!