Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Surprise!!!

I LOVE when Santa came early for me this year....I could hardly contain my excitement!!!! Here's what Santa (AKA my parents) surprised me with when I was cooking Thanksgiving Dinner....

I was thrilled....I was surprised.... I was panicked... I had planned on reading a book about how to use this camera prior to getting my hands on that I could be familiar with it before hand. Pretty typical of me....wanting to "prepare" early. Oh well... Now I get to read about it and practice at the same time! I am in HEAVEN!!!!

We hosted Thanksgiving this I am a bit exhausted tonight...but can't wait to share some pics of our day yesterday! We have so much to be thankful for this year. I am pretty lucky to have two beautiful and healthy children, one adoring puppy, and one husband who puts up with me through it all! My parents and sister who are ALWAYS there for me...probably don't know just how much I APPRECIATE all the sacrifices they make for me. I am soooo grateful.

It's not always easy to find clothes to dress the kids alike that are actually cute for both girls and boys... but I thought these outfits were pretty close to perfect especially since J has a special love for owls!

I thought the table decorations, favors and even Willie would be good subjects for my new camera practice...

Here we are making our annual Christmas chains before the guests arrived.

We had a great time at the Thanksgiving here are just a few pics of our fun. Way too much food....and of course the kids were way too excited to eat! Joseph had a lot of fun with his new found friend, Thad, whom he now calls "BAD". Pretty fitting for this outrageous couisn of mine...ha, ha, Thad...just kidding!!

After an afternoon at our house, we all headed down to Nouna's house on the Plaza for dessert and of course the Plaza Lighting! This was J's first plaza lighting experience! I love to see the expressions on these little guys faces when the lights and fireworks light up the night sky! A perfect end to a perfect day!

So today, we intended to decorate the tree....but we kept finding "failed", sorry Brett...but I guess we will have to restring this year!!! Sophia was too excited to wait....the lights may not be on the tree yet...but her new princess ornament has already found its home for the year!!! So, one ornament down...and many many to go...but at least I was able to get a few decorations up around the more opportunities for camera practice!!!

I have a feeling I will be pretty excited to take pictures this Christmas!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nouna's Bread

It's hard to remember the holidays without having a memory of my Nouna's Bread!! Without fail...every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas our mouths would water for this stuff. Nouna is the only one in our family who was able to truly keep alive her VeVe's special recipe for this amazing Greek bread. My mother and my nouna have been retelling the stories for years about how their VeVe (grandmother) used to make this bread, and always had a fresh hot loaf ready for them when they arrived at her house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, no matter what time their arrival was. I am soooo thankful that my Nouna shared her love for baking because she has passed the recipe down to me. It's not only a recipe...but a HUGE task. The recipe makes EIGHT loaves...but the hard work in making sooo worth it in the end. I dream of eating this bread with butter melting all over it!!!!!! (No you can never have enough butter!!!!) I have made it many times in the past. I have had MANY failures...just ask Brett....have even come home to overflowing bread in my oven....and I have had some successes. This year I decided I needed to watch my Nouna so I could be sure to have her tricks down. So, today was the day!!! I'm trying to recopy my recipe right now so I can remember all of her special touches!!

We began early this morning. Little J was so excited for "Na's" arrival that he stood at the window waiting for her for about 20 minutes!!! It was too cute!

And of course, curious Joe had to be right where the action was.

I should have taken a picture of the 8 loaves after they were baked...because not only did they turn out beautiful...but they were extra delicious!!! Thanks Nouna for sharing your day with me and for sharing this special family recipe. I hope that someday when I am a "VeVe" my grandchildren will be telling stories about my warm bread too!!!

I'm dying to decorate for Christmas....but I am making myself wait till after Thanksgiving, since we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year! So besides our lights outside...we are pretty much still in Thanksgiving mode around here. There has been lots of baking going on, though...and my little mister is becoming quite interested in all those goodies lying around on the counter. Here is the little guy pretty much caught red-handed!!!

And a final funny before I email my Nouna to make sure I've got this recipe written correctly.... This is how I found Sophia brushing her teeth the other night. Apparently she remembered how the dentist sometimes makes her wear sunglasses during dental she put on these funny glasses her daddy had given her from one of his jobs!! Too cute! preparation for her "Farmer's Market" at school tomorrow, we had to pull out a bandana for Sophia to wear. They all thought it looked more funny on mama's head.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Royal Icing = Royal PAIN

So.... I have had a lot on my mind these past few weeks. And what do I do when I need to clear my head????

I was asked to bake cookies for a I decided my usual sugar cookie icing recipe was not good enough. Royal Icing it had to be. I've made this icing before...and never loved it....and this time after many trials, many errors, a few successes....I have decided it is just a royal pain. So the sifting of the powdered sugar drives me does the guesswork involved in how much water I need to make it of "flooding" consistency! The only positive??? Little J LOVES to pull up a chair and watch the mixer go on turbo speed to whip it to perfection. Oh my.... It's not even Thanksgiving yet....and dare I say I am already tired of cooking????

Well here is some of what I've been doing this week to clear my head:

More exciting than my baking was Sophia's Daisy Investiture Ceremony! Today she earned a Daisy pin and one of the petals for her Daisy flower on her vest (Today she earned the blue petal standing for Honesty and Fairness). She was pretty excited and her whole troop looked pretty darn cute. Sophia was the only one without her school uniform on...not sure if they were supposed to wear it (oops) or maybe the other girls were all in afternoon kindergarten and hadn't changed yet. Oh well..I loved that she was the colorful one...reminded me of the Olivia story when Olivia tells her mother she likes to be different than all of the rest!

I tried to get a picture of Joseph watching...but the stinker kept turning his head. He was pretty into the baby in the carrier right next to him!

And finally a picture of the new oil cloth for the kids coloring old one (that I cut) was way too big and drove me nuts because it never stayed on and I was constantly fixing it so the kids wouldn't get glue and markers, etc on the table. Thanks to Brett....he got this one perfect....and even velcro'ed it....I don't think it's going anywhere! Love it!

Whew...the computer has been a nice break from frosting bags, frosting couplers, frosting tips, etc....Maybe it's time to move on to pies!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday Tidbits

It's that time of year again....(not quite Thanksgiving) but my mind is already boggling with Thanksgiving dinner preparations, Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, holiday crafts, holiday baking (OF COURSE!!) and much more. So much I want to do in so little time.... I have put up my first Christmas decoration (see picture above.... a gift from my mother :) The rest of the decorations will wait till after Thanksgiving. Thinking about decorating just makes me tired and I am already tired tonight...physically and mentally.

My guy is wearing me out these days. Little J has decided he can do EVERYTHING by himself these days..... The list includes:
-climbing into the car by himself
-walking up and down the stairs by himself
-pressing elevator buttons by himself
-trying to push the syringe of amoxicillin into his mouth (for his ear infection) by himself
-walking in the street????!!!!!????? by himself

Sorry Mister..but you can not walk in the street to get the mail by yourself....even if you are pushing your lawn mower. No Sir. SORRY...not gonna budge on that....So I guess I need to apologize to all the neighbors in advance for the screaming that I'm sure will ensue each time we try to walk to get our mail. I'm hoping reality will sink in soon!!!

Anyway....the week started with a trip to Hobby Lobby....have I mentioned before how much I LOVE this store??? Because I do. I needed to get some red and green and yellow construction paper so we could make our annual Christmas countdown chains on Thanksgiving day. (And so nice that Hobby Lobby is right next to I could immediately take the paper to Mardel to cut it into strips on their fabulous cutting board, and I still had time to laminate some things that have been waiting for lamination for months! ) I admit....I did score a few other goodies at my trip to Hobby Lobby. My favorite...

Yes... finally a SCALLOPED circle cutter. I have circle cutters in all sizes....but never a scalloped one. I used to try to trace scalloped circles and then cut each little ridge out by hand... This little guy makes my life sooo much easier. I LOVE it!

We've been fortunate to still have some nice weather in November, so J and I have had some fun coasting down the driveway in his red car. He thinks it is just too much fun. I almost can't step out into the garage anymore with him....because he will refuse to get in our car if HIS red car catches his eye. And of course tears are still shed when we get in my car anyway...b/c it is not nearly as much fun as Daddy's truck!

When we haven't been outside... we've been busy crafting. Here's a picture of the new post-it holder I made since I can't ever seem to find a post-it quickly enough. Notice the scalloped circle on the design?????

And here are the santa's I'm making for the annual christmas lists. Sophia loves to cut out and paste pictures of the things she wants for Christmas on something "Christmasy." Last year her list was posted on a Christmas tree I thought Santa cut-outs would be cute for this year. I can't wait to see the pictures Sophia glues to her Santa!

And here is the completed turkey family.....mmmmm they smell good.

And while I've been busy with these things...Miss Sophia has been hard at work. I wish I could take pictures of all of her artwork....her imagination and attention to detail soooo amazes me. Here are some pictures from a book I did with her called The First Thanksgiving. Look at how great her pilgrim is!!!

I'm sure things will be a bit hectic from now till the end of January....but I think the holidays will be full of fun at our house. Christmas is such a "magical" time for the kids....seeing their excitement is one of the best parts of the season....and of course cookie baking is right up there too! :)

Speaking of cookie is one of my new most favorite blogs: