December 24, 2012

Wishing...

you a Merry Christmas and a very happy and prosperous New Year.

2013? I'm still trying to figure out where 2012, 2011, and 2010 went ... time is really flying by. I wish it would slow down. I will turn 40 this coming year. So not ready ... lol

As a gift to myself, my eyes, and my family, I'm powering down the electronics until January 2nd when I return to work. I hope you all find the time to slow down and power off during the holidays as well.

See you in January!

December 21, 2012

French Toast Casserole

Food Fest continues ... it's time to share this gem of a recipe. I came across this recipe at least a year ago. I'm not sure when it was first published in the magazine, but I tore it out immediately as a recipe I needed to make someday.

For the past few years on New Years Eve we head over to my sister-in-law's house for a Breakfast for Dinner night of family fun. The catch is - you have to wear your pajamas. This tradition started mainly because all of our kids were young and we wanted to do *something* for New Year's Eve but we were all over the going out to party phase ... so this idea was born. It's fun, we enjoy it, and so do all the kids!

Last year I made this casserole for the night and it was a huge hit! I follow the directions exactly and leave out the nuts. It's sooooooo good and I'm usually not a bread pudding fan. This isn't quite like that but I suppose it's close - like a cousin.

I'm attaching the link below which has all the step-by-step pictures, as well as picutres of the final result.  I hope you give it a try and love it too!

http://spoonful.com/recipes/french-toast-casserole

ENJOY!!

December 20, 2012

Brownie Trifle

The week before Christmas is always Food Fest Week at work. This year we changed it up a bit and decided to have theme days, like Dip Day, Mexican Day, Dessert Day, and Breakfast Day. I signed up to bring a dish on two of the four days. I usually bring cookies each year but this year too many people put "cookie platter" on the sign up sheet so I decided to go a different route this year.

That leads me this delicious Brownie Trifle. It's very easy to throw together.

Bake a pan of brownies using whatever mix you like - homemade or a box. A box is easier sometimes, ya know. Make sure they are cooled completely. I baked my brownies late one night and assembled this the following evening.

Mix up a pack of chocolate instant pudding according to the directions (which may need about 15 minutes in the fridge to set.) While you are waiting for the pudding, whip a 1/2 pint of heavy cream and 3 tablespoons of sugar together until nice and fluffy. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate pudding and mix well.

You will also need 2 containers of French Vanilla Cool Whip, defrosted.

Next, take your cooled brownies and crumble them. Try not to eat them all during this process.

Then take your fancy bowl and begin layering the ingredients:

1/2 of the crumbled brownies on the bottom
Then 1/2 of the chocolate pudding mixture
Then 1 tub of the cool whip
Repeat.

This is best if you let it setup overnight so it's the perfect make-ahead dessert. If you want to make it more festive, you could add some Christmas jimmies on top like I did just before serving it.



Don't forget to share it with your friends & family, or not ... your decision!


December 19, 2012

Prayers & Tears

I can't watch the news or visit any news websites. I've also been steering clear of Facebook. What happened last Friday at the elementary school is beyond evil. I can't hear about it or see a picture of one of those sweet faces without tears coming to my eyes. I cannot imagine dealing with unfathomable loss in that way and so publicly.

To the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers & staff, classmates, police, fire, EMT's, and friends of all the victims have my most sincerest heart-felt condolences for this utterly senseless tragedy.


December 17, 2012

Overheard in My Kitchen

B, do you have ants in your pants?

"Nice idiom, Mom!"

(He's 8. He makes me laugh every day!)

December 14, 2012

The Naughty List

I can tell you who is on the naughty list - our dog. He's been an absolute terror lately and I think it's because we haven't had him "fixed" yet.  Our vet wants us to wait until he's closer to a year old  but wow, I don't know if we will be able to make it until April!

I was trying to get something on the table for dinner the other night and he wouldn't leave me alone. I was reheating chicken, so of course he could smell it ... he usually takes the hint and goes over to lay on his bed but not that night. I ended up gating him out of the kitchen so he was in the family room with the boys. But then he suddenly went w-i-l-d, jumping all over the new couches, nipping at the boys, etc ... he was a dog possessed.  I would have put him outside but we've had a lot of rain and I didn't want to deal with wet & muddy paws so I went to get his leash...

I looped it around the door handle to the sliding glass door and told him to sit and calm down.  Now, our loveseat is only about a foot from the sliding door so what did he do? He stretched as far as he could and jumped up to rest his front legs/paws on the loveseat and turned his head - - and just stared at me as if to say, "Now what? Huh? I am lord of this manor!" 

This dog might be smarter than me.

So I re-tied the leash to the dog gate that separates our kitchen and family room. I've got him now! He can't reach the couch so he will just sit there and chill out while we eat. About 3.2 seconds later, he was free. Walking around the family room with a shit-eating grin on his face. How did he do that, do you ask?



Do they have military school for dogs? Because I think he may need to enroll.



December 13, 2012

Do You Elf on the Shelf?

I get a serious kick out of how many Facebook postings I see groaning about The Elf. It seems people either love it or hate it. Our Elf, whom we never named, joined our family 3 years ago, I think? So my oldest was 7 and my youngest was 5.  When The Elf first arrived (ours arrives on December 1st thereby reducing the number of nights I have to remember to move him), the boys bounced out of bed every morning before school to look for him. It was great - no more fighting with them to get up and get dressed!

When just moving him around didn't seems to do it anymore, The Elf started to hide, to the point I had to give them clues as to where he was hiding. Sometimes he even brought little gifts (like a small piece of candy, $1 store toy) and then it all morphed into sometimes finding him in trouble, tied-up, and surrounded by army men. 

But this year, all of that has changed. A few weeks ago my youngest son told me during a car ride "I know you are Santa."  That statement simultaneously broke my heart and made me jump for joy. No more hiding. No more pretending. No more worrying about where to stash the wrapped gifts. It was such a free-feeling but also sad at the same time ... my babies are growing up!

When he said that, I countered with, "Well, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being Daddy and I are Santa, how sure are you?"  He said, "I'm about a 9." I'm still not quite sure if he figured this out on his own (the boy is not stupid - kind of surprised he made it through last Christmas still believing) or if someone spilled the beans.  But regardless, I thought this meant The Elf could retire!

I was wrong, very very wrong ... right after Thanksgiving he told me that he still expected me to hide The Elf!

So yes, I'm still hiding The Elf, leaving little candy gifts, and occasionally making The Elf be mischievous ... and he's still bouncing out of bed every morning to find him. And when I forgot 3 nights in a row (whoops) he reminded me in an annoyed tone that I forgot AGAIN.

Son #1 was still awake and saw The Elf sitting on the shelf (yes, literally) in the kitchen. He says, "Mom, I'll hide him for you so you don't forget. I don't even look for him anymore but I know B really likes to."  Ahhh ... one of those rare moments I know he really loves his younger brother!


December 12, 2012

1st Birchbox!

has arrived ... so much fun receiving fun mail!  Since it was the first box sent, it includes their favorite all-time loves to get you started. 

Here's what was in the box:

~ Nail polish in "Status Update" by Color club ... a custom gray color (haven't tried yet)

~ Eau Flirt fragarance by Harvey Prince ... hint of fruit but not too fruity ot floral ... I think I like it!

~ Pomegranate & Fig lip butter by Mox Botannicals ... very smooth, nice scent ... love it!

~ Textute & Volume spray by Oscar Blandi ... it's a light, nonsticky spray to use on dry hair to add some volume or to freshen second day unwashed hair ... really like it ... I can see myself ordering a full-sized bottle.

~A gray elastic hair tie by Twistband ... it's cute, soft, and stretchy ... but I usually do with elastics that blend into my hair color to tie my hair back.

And lastly, a plastic slider bag by Tili. This is promoted as travel-friendly perfectly sized bag for storing beauty products. But it's really not much bigger than a ziplock sandwich bag (but seems thicker/sturdier.) Pricey too ... I would not buy these.


Not bad start for a cost of $9.16 per month for the next year!


December 11, 2012

Bacon, Basements & Baking

The weekend was very productive. I'm not sure what came over me but I was a woman on a mission.  Our spare bedroom has long been a dumping ground for clothes that no longer fit and the pile of random crap on top of my scrapbooking desk was getting out of control and stifling my creativity! So I took charge and cleaned it all up. Rearranged a few things too, in hopes of making this room more "me" soon.

Cleaning up this room enabled me to tentatively make it a wrapping station for all things Christmas. Everything I have purchased so far is wrapped and ready to go. And the crazy thing? It was only Saturday!

Sunday morning after making breakfast (hello bacon!), I wouldn't let the boys leave the house until we did a basement sweep. It only took an hour but order has been restored and the dead bugs have been vacuumed up.

*Mental Note: Call an exterminator!*

I wish we had the money to finish our basement. That's really the only thing that's missing from our home ... but we make do and have various rug remants down there to make it more cozy - as cozy as it can be with cinder block walls!  I've thought about trying to suspend cheap long curtains (or maybe even flat sheets?) to give it a more finished look.  But I have no idea how I would do it .. maybe I should google. I'm sure someone somewhere has done this in their unfinished basement.

I also managed to find time to bake a batch of butter cookies to try a new recipe I had scribbled down, probably a year ago. Finally, a recipe that will press through my cookie press the right way! The cookies are good. They should be with a whole freaking pound of butter in the recipe! But even still, something is missing ... it's still not the taste I'm looking for.

Sunday night we went out to dinner to a local, but really good, diner. I know, how rare ... a diner that serves good food! It had been awhile since we've been there and it was really nice to sit down and enjoy a meal with my family.


December 10, 2012

Proof He's Crazy

I'm not even sure I have words to describe this photograph ... my husband did this.  The only way I can explain it is to say this:

He works 7pm-7am. He's sleep deprived all the time. And when he's off from work, it's virtually impossible for him to flip to a "normal" sleeping schedule so most of the time, he wanders around the house at night doing really stupid shit.


Those sugar cookies? Were in a sealed container. Why he decided taking them out the container, which was supposed to keep them fresh, and wrap them in a paper towel and then label them with a sharpie, is behind the scope of my comprehension abilities.

He's driving me crazy!!

December 7, 2012

Project!

I used to make crafty projects all the time. Then I had kids. I've spent the last ten years keeping them fed, busy, and my house clean so crafting took the very last seat in the back of the bus. Now that they are getting older, I find myself with more free time. I seriously can't believe I just typed that - free time!  It's true. These days, they are all about playing with friends and destroying the front lawn with their pick-up football games. A small price to pay to get them to break from the electronics!

When you walk around AC Moore aimlessly with your sister, this is what happens ... you see cute, easy projects that suck you in and before you realize what happened, you have all the supplies in your cart and you're checking out at the register.


Cute, right? All you need is a glass block/cube, the vinyl decal, a small string of lights (the lights go inside the cube), some ribbon, and maybe some bells and glitter glue.  If you look closely, you'll see the glitter glue was dotted in the word Santa and in the little stars on the decal. I didn't decorate the perimeter of the cube with green paint like they did but I did choose ribobn I liked and added the jingle bells.  The store offered a few other holiday themed decals but I really like this one.

December 5, 2012

Over It

This past weekend finally brought an end to our football season. My youngest son was invited to play on the All Star team and the game was on Saturday. It was a beautiful day! I was very pleased with how diplomatic they were in making sure each child on the team got equal playing time. Our division won the game 26-0!

With all the drama this season brought and our impending switch to another league, I decided to un-friend 4 out of 5 moms I had accepted friend requests from over the past year at the end of the season. I did that about a month ago.  The reality is, they weren't a friend and never commented or acknowledge anything I put on Facebook. So what was the point? Plus, I didn't like the idea of them having access to my information and I wasn't going to let them "spy" on me and my family, if they would be inclinded to do that.

So fast-forward to the game ... I walk past one of the unfriended mom's and I say "Hi' to her and she doesn't even acknowledge me. Really? Seriously? Are we in 5th grade? I've never had words with this mother. In fact, I think I can count on one hand how many conversations we've ever had. At first it didn't dawn on me why she was so rude - and then I remember the unfriending ... honestly, I didn't even think she'd notice!

Why are women so difficult? I'm almost 40 years old and I still don't understand female relationships. The good news is that with age, comes less caring and tolerance of the BS. I'm over it!

December 4, 2012

He Knows If You've Been Bad or Good...

so be good for goodness sake!


I have no doubt about what he's thinking about doing!


December 3, 2012

My $70 Mistake

Three years ago I finally convinced my husband to have someone come in and paint our kitchen/family room, two-story entry, and the hallway upstairs. It was a big job and he did not want to do it.  I didn't want him to do it because I wanted it done as quickly as possible and you know how it usually goes when you do things yourself. Yes, you save money ... but the time it takes and there are the unforeseen interruptions. Sometimes it's just easier to pay someone to do it. The painter we hired did a great job and now I could finally decorate the rooms the way I wanted, which included buying new curtains.

Curtains are a necessary evil. I really don't like them and picking them out is a nightmare for me. After trying a few stores with no luck, I went to JCP.com and found exactly what I was looking for. The panels hanging over my patio door were about 3 inches too long but I just pinned them up, fully intending to get them hemmed. Ha!

I've vacuumed and refreshed the curtains every so often over the past three years but never washed them ... until Thanksgiving weekend. In the midst of cleaning the house and prepping for Christmas, I finally took the time to take them down and wash them. I looked for the tag for washing instructions but apparently I had removed the tag. No problem, I thought. I'll just wash them on delicate and toss in the dryer and re-hang them damp because the other thing I hate doing is ironing. What could possibly go wrong, right?

When I took them out of the dryer, they smelled so nice ... and I decided to "hem" them before rehanging them. The liner behind the curtains was acting a bit weird (wasn't laying quite right) but I figured it was because I had just washed them, I'd hem it, lightly press it, and all would be okay.

All was not okay.

After the hemming (seam tape!), I rehung the one panel and stared in disbelief - the panel was now 6 inches too short. THEY SHRUNK. But worse than that? The liner behind the panel (yet to be hemmed) did not shrink and was now hanging 6 inches below the panel. Seriously?!? 

Lucky for me, JCP.com still sells the same curtains (on sale!) and had the same color I had purchase three years before. The new panels arrived the other day. They have been hung and yes, they are still too long and need to be hemmed.  The tag clearly says DRY CLEAN ONLY. Next time I'm leaving it to the professionals.