Sunday, December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas! (a little late)

(My parents' house all decked out!)

Tonight I was talking with my friend about how today it officially feels like Christmas is over. He told him it's been over for days but I'm lucky enough to have a whole week of celebrating and today felt like the end of it.

My family is a family of tradition - we love our traditions. Some might not like traditions because they think they can easily get you stuck in a rut. I love traditions because they make you intentional - and I like that. A few Christmas traditions that my family has are going to see the Kansas City Symphony play at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, going out to dinner as a family courtesy of my brother Joel, eating the same menu for breakfast every Christmas morning (including sparkling grape juice), timing how long it takes for all of us to open our presents (I think it's normally around 2 hours but never heard the final time from my uncle Dave. I think we were quicker this year), going bowling as an extended family... the list goes on....

I'm thankful for a week of traditions and a family to celebrate with. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, too! (Here are a few pictures from my week.)

 (This year's family dinner was at Pierponts in Union Station.)

(Union Station. I love this place.)

(All decked out...) 

 (Kansas City Symphony... it may have been illegal that I took this pic. Oh well...)

(One of my favorite sights on Christmas Eve is too look down over our living room 
all decked out with decorations and gifts. I don't know why... But I love it.)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Oh hey!

Hey, my name is Abby Thomason. I am, er, was... the author of this blog. Then I disappeared for a long time. Gosh I'd like to say I'm back for good. But you know how life goes... So let's just live in the moment and focus on the now, shall we? Let me give you a few updates on what's been going on since I've last written. (I'm consulting the pictures on my phone for this - because I figure if it's picture worthy, then it's somewhat substantial... maybe?)

I've drank a lot of coffee. It seems like my friend and I go to fun coffee places often. Just found a new one I really like called Benetti's in Raytown. If you're in the KC area - I'd recommend it. I'm a big fan of Quay's all spice latte as well. If it wasn't 10:00pm I'd go get one right now.
 (Benetti's does it right. The owner won't let you settle for a mediocre coffee drink.)

(Mmm, all spice latte...)

I went to my first KU basketball game since middle school. I always give my dad a hard time for always choosing to take my brothers over me when he gets tickets. Well this year, my dad came through and sought out tickets so we could go to a game. What a good guy...
(I got to go with my uncle Dave and brother Cory, too. What fun guys!)

I was sick. I've never been so sick in my life. BUT, I'm on the mend and feeling good, so that's good news...
(A friend brought over tea one day when I was working from home. He's a keeper...)

I ran a 5k! Never in my life did I ever think I would do that. But I started the Couch to 5k program back in September and I'd highly recommend it. It was a really good way to gradually get there if you're not a runner like me. My cousin Julie did it with me and I don't think I would have kept going if it weren't for her. We are a good team...
(We did it!) 

(The crew from the family who ran/walked the 5k on Thanksgiving morning.)

After Thanksgiving I got right into the Christmas spirit. Lots of decorating... Here is my tree and my parent's tree.
(My mom gave me our girl's tree that we always put up together at home... It looks good, eh?) 

(Love my parents...)

Speaking of trees - there was this thing called the Magic Tree in Columbia when I went to college. Turns out that we now have one here in KC!
(So great...)

(My friend Josh... he's not so bad.)

Then I shifted my decorating efforts to this event my church put on called Affordable Christmas. I was in charge of the decorating team... It was a lot of work - but I am happy with how things turned out and I think the families that attended the event really felt loved on by the whole day.
(The special girls I led with... we just happened to match one day.) 

(Check out all of those to do lists...)

(One of the rooms we decorated. Someone said it reminded them of Elf. 
Not sure you could have given me a better compliment...)

Now Affordable Christmas is over and I have shifted gears to preparing for Christmas with my family and friends. Wrapping gifts, decorating sugar cookies, and Secret Santa at work. I'm ready for Christmas... Only 1 week away!
(Have I mentioned I love wrapping gifts?)

(These sock are knee highs and on the other side of them they have a cabin covered in snow 
with smoke coming out of the chimney... Seriously though. And yes - that mug is wearing a sweater.)

Welp, that was a lengthy update on the happenings in my life for now. Hope you are doing well!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cheesecake Pie.

Last weekend I was in charge of bringing the birthday cake for a family birthday. When I asked the birthday boys what they'd like me to bring they said, "Something not as cakey." So I opted for cheesecake. The only problem with cheesecake is that you have to use a springform pan which can be a pain, and a lot of the time, no matter how hard I try and how many tricks I practice, my cheesecake cracks... which frustrates the heck out of this perfectionist. So I decided to make cheesecake in a pie pan... because for some reason that seemed to be the solution to all of my problems.

I found a recipe that super easy and super delicious. One of my friends said it was maybe the best cheesecake he had ever had (he may have been trying to butter me up a bit though...) So I have to share it with you! And guess what... it didn't crack! Hooray for that...

Hope you enjoy! (I took it from this recipe but simplified it even more... how about that!)

Cheesecake Pie

1 1/4 cups graham crackers crumbs
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (the recipe actually asked for lemon zest but I didn't have a lemon on hand so this worked just fine.)

In a bowl, melt butter in the microwave for about a minute then add the graham cracker crumbs. Firmly press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie pan. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice (or zest) just until blended. Pour into prepared crust.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until center is set. Remove from the oven. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour then refrigerate overnight.

(I served this with a caramel sauce that people could drizzle on top but a lot of people were content with just plain old cheesecake.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

People pictures vs. Things Pictures

Two weekends ago I went with my mom and visited my cousins Dana and Marc and their son Cole in Sublette, a small town in southwest Kansas.

I'm ashamed to say that I didn't take very many pictures of people while I was there. I took a few of Cole because he's so dang cute it's hard to resist. But I didn't take as many of the people that I love and the fun things that we did as I should have. Not making excuses but sometimes I feel like I'm being a burden when I stop everyone in their tracks and say, "Wait, can I take a picture really quick?" But I don't know why I think that, because if anyone ever asks to take a picture of me I feel honored, so my guess is other people feel the same. I should work on taking more pictures of people...

I did happen to take some pictures of Sublette. I really like the town - it has a different feel than the city and I like that. So I took some pictures. No pictures of people. But, no worries, I have like twenty of a water tower - because water is what matters in life... (sense the sarcasm.) Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures I took in Sublette.

And note to self: take more pictures of people.

(There's the handsome fella...)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cutting vegetables.

We have a food day at work tomorrow. Normally I would use a food day to try out some new, over the top dessert recipe that I've been wanting to bake like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies or Salted Caramel Cheesecake or something else with a lot of adjectives/ingredients in the name.

This time... I signed up to bring vegetables and hummus.

Vegetables and hummus?! My life is changing and I don't really know how I feel about it. The truth is I miss baking. I miss eating cookie dough. I miss licking the excess frosting straight from the beater. I miss it all. Why am I not baking, you ask? It's because I have a hard time handling it. I've been trying to change the way I eat and I have a really hard time with self control when there is a Snickerdoodle Cupcake staring me in the face. And since I've been working out more, the time that I would normally spend in the kitchen has been re-prioritized to time running on the trail. I'm changing...

Confession: when I wasn't living a very lifestyle I hated hearing about other people's healthy lifestyles. So I'm not saying this to say, "Check me out - I'm healthy!" (Because I still have a looong way to go.) And I'm really sorry if you hate me right now. What I am saying is that I have lost the balance. I miss baking. I love baking. And I need to find some time (and some self control) to do it again.

So tonight, as I found myself staying up late peeling carrots and cutting bell peppers when I truly wanted to be staying up late creaming butter and piping frosting, I decided I need to start baking again. So that's what I intend to do!

That is all.

(Notice, my Kitchenaid living in the shadow of my vegetables...)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Denver: Week 2

(Washington Park. Maybe one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken.)

I had even better intentions for week two in Denver. I was the only one going from KC so I thought, "No dinner plans, I'll have my evenings to myself... this'll be great." Welp, this girl got an impromptu dinner invite with the big wigs on Monday - so of course I'm not going to turn that down. Then, my beloved Royals played in the World Series on Tuesday and Wednesday night, so those evenings were shot. Then I left midday Thursday because I had already had Friday scheduled off... And there was my week.

I really wanted to go see the mountains a little closer but that just didn't happen. I had asked my brother Joel for suggestions of places to go and he suggested Washington Park. "It's halfway between Loose Park and Central Park." With a description like that, how can you go wrong? Joel knows what he's talking about when it comes to stuff like this... (And many other things.)

It. was. beautiful. I went on Tuesday and loved it so much that I went back on Wednesday. One of the prettier parks I've seen and I hit it at just the right time of day. All along I kept thinking about how thankful I am for parks. A park is something that really isn't necessary in the world. But people took time to create it to celebrate the outdoors, and activity, and beauty... And I just like that. 

Hooray for parks! Hooray, especially, for Washington Park. It made my second week in Denver.

(I love me some benches...) 

(Told you...) 

 (Not sure what lawn bowling is - but I think I want to be a part of it.)

(P.S. Turns out I'm only going to Denver these two weeks instead of four until the beginning of next year. But no worries, I'll try to find some time to blog and get back at it.)

Denver: Week 1

 (The view from the balcony of my room - those are mountains, though you can't really tell.)

Well, as always... I had great intentions of all of this downtime I'd have while in Denver. The first week I was there I went out to dinner with my co-workers that went with me every night so I didn't have any downtime at all. I did manage to take a few pictures though. Lame... I know, but that's all I could do.
(The DoubleTree - my home away from home.)

(Fancy work dinner... love having a nice meal on the company.)

(Another shot from the balcony - the skies were pretty amazing.)

(Even though it was a good week, I was so glad to be back in KC and took 
the long way home from the airport just so I could drive through downtown.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

This and that.

I can't believe it's been so long since I've blogged. Where does time go? I was dreaming about fall and now fall is in full swing. I don't have a whole lot to say... But I thought I'd give another quick update.

 (Apparently this is Denver. I googled it.)
1. My company is sending me to Denver to work for 4 weeks. This girl's growing up! I've never been on a "business trip" before - guess they aren't really easing me into it with 4 weeks of travel. Thankfully they have agreed to bring me home on the weekends - yes, that's a lot of flying - but I think it'll be worth it. I leave next Monday.

(Skinnier Abby? Or just bigger hair...? That is the question.)
2. Still going strong on the whole weight loss/work out thing (Praise Jesus - literally.) The only people who read this blog are people who love me and are ok celebrating with me so I feel ok telling you that I've lost 40 pounds so far! I've got about 40 more to go, so I am clearly still a work in progress, but I'm encouraged and I feel healthier than I have in about 10 years.

(My guess is he's a jerk, but Hosmer ain't bad to look at.)
3. My beloved Kansas City Royals are in the ALCS (American League Championship Series... I had to be told what it was too, don't worry.) We are up 2-0 against the Orioles and had our first home game rained out tonight. It was rescheduled for tomorrow though so I'm pretty stoked. Go Royals!

(The food table.)
4. I threw a baby shower with a couple of friends for our good from April on Saturday. I had a great time planning it and throwing it. And we are all pretty stinking excited for this baby...

(Good thing he's so cute, or we wouldn't keep loving him...)
5. My roommate's dog Dietrich keeps running away. Probably 2 or 3 times a week. When is he (the dog)/she (my roommate) going to learn...

(So great, right?)
6. I have started planning for my church's event called Affordable Christmas. It's a store where we sell legit gifts for 1/10th the normal price for families who can't really afford Christmas - it's a way to serve them so they can serve their family within their means and with dignity. It's a really cool thing... And I'm in charge of decorating the space... Check out this idea I saw for a Santa Clause picture backdrop. I might just do it! If you're in the Kansas City area and have any old Christmas decorations that you'd like to donate - holla at me. (Yep, I said holla.)

(Bad picture, but you get the idea...)
7. I haven't baked with pumpkin as much as I would have liked. I baked some cookies that actually turned out pretty well. Every time I go on Pinterest and see all the pumpkin recipes my stomach aches out of yearning to bake and eat them. I know if I do I wouldn't be able to resist though, so I have held off. I did see this recipe for a Skinny Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino that I want to try though.

(The trees on campus at work.)
8. It's been raining a lot. I'm pretty much over it and have been since the minute it started (have I mentioned I'm not a fan) but I'm trying to look on the bright side and the trees look extra pretty in comparison...

That's about it for now. My guess is the amount of blogging will increase drastically over the next few weeks as I will be sitting in my hotel room in Denver with nothing better to do. ;) Talk to you soon...