Snowman’s Land

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been on a roller coaster lately. Not the real sort, I actually am deathly afraid of those, but the mental sort. Loads of ups and downs lately. It is what it is. Well, anyways, yesterday I was using voice to text and saying something to a friend about how sad I was about how something turned out and when I got off, Bigs looks at me and says, in his infinite three-year-old wisdom, “Mommy, you don’t have to be sad. You have us. And you get to be with us.”. And then I turned into a puddle. Right there. I couldn’t believe the depth and love that little boy showed me in what he had to say. He’s absolutely right! THAT’S what is important.  I am so grateful for him and his knowing that I needed to hear that.

Today, for sweet Bigs’ lunch, I went with a snowman theme. I hope he loves it!

Snoman Themed Preschool Lunch

I made a snowman shaped PB&J and also did a little hat and holly leaf cutout, as well. I used my Food Writers to decorate and pretzel sticks for the arms. He also has corn and an applesauce squeezy fruit and for dessert, hot chocolate flavored Goldfish cookies, to which I also added a few mini-marshmallows. He’s going to love it. I just know it.

And Duncan was back again this morning! He’s celebrating the true meaning of Christmas.

Elf on a Shelf Day 10

What a sweet elf.

Have a wonderfully blessed day,

Kristin

Boggin’ Around the Christmas Tree…

Counselor

Yesterday was a really wonderful Sunday for my family. We went to church and had a lovely service.

I love church and especially this time of year.

 Manger Scene

I ADORE celebrating the true meaning of this season. I am so desperate for my boys to know Jesus in their hearts and to worship Him for who He is and what He’s done.

Come Let Us Adore Him

We also went to Target and I finished up some shopping and also got some necessities, like milk and Gingerbread Twix. My husband and Bigs got an inflatable Snoopy and Woodstock for the front yard from the hardware store. They put that up when we got home while I made a lasagna and dessert, all during which Smalls was balancing on a chair arm rest to boost himself up to catch a glimpse of them outside.

20131208_174337

The lasagna was…normal. Not fabulous. But not burned! So, I’d call that a success. Everyone ate it and seemed to enjoy it. Except Smalls, who only had one bite and spit it out saying, “Ewwwww!”. But I know he was just doing it for a laugh. I think.

collage_20131208193421967_20131208193449840

At least I fed them. They should be grateful.

For dessert, I made a Nigella Lawson recipe (TEAM NIGELLA!!!) – Cranberry Orange & Almond Pudding. And this happened….

PicsArt_1386548934646

Nigella’s looked way better. But that’s okay. This was my fault. I used a dish way too small for the recipe. It still tasted wonderful!

Look at these fresh cranberries, soaking in a bathtub of butter and sugar…

PicsArt_1386548541809

Isn’t their color just gorgeous? Shiny, firm and ruby red. I love when they heat up and start popping and letting go of their glorious crimson juices. I could eat them all day. I made a quick batter (the only change I made to the recipe was using orange extract versus orange oil, because that is all I had) and poured half of it into the dish, topped it off with the marvelous cranberries and then the remaining batter. A sprinkling of sliced almonds and granulated sugar finished the dish.

PicsArt_1386548642985

PicsArt_1386548747486

Then THAT happened. I obviously expected it, placing my dish on a tin-covered pan before placing it in the oven. I just used the bubbled over goodness as a “taste test” for myself (Which I ate in hiding…I am very adept at that now.).

20131208_171237

Look at that splendid, crunchy, sugary crust. Truly delightful.

20131208_181410

It looks like a holiday-time dessert.

20131208_181417

Thank you Nigella. This was truly delicious. Recipe link below.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nigella-lawson/cranberry-orange-and-almond-pudding-recipe/index.html

So…Gingerbread Twix. I wrote briefly about them recently. I finally got my hands on some from Target. Unfortunately, they still do not have Gingerbread Oreos. But I’ll keep trying…I’m nothing if not tenacious when it comes to getting my seasonal goods.

20131208_133540

They were delicious! I am so sad they are only a seasonal treat. The caramel was gingerbread flavored. And the crunch from the cookie really added a texture that resulted in a gingerbread cookie experience.

20131208_133554

Yum yum yum.

And Duncan is here again! This time, he is indulging in some coffee and donuts. I put him on a tea treats tray (mouthful!) with his goodies in my china cabinet (best place for the boys not to touch, since it’s enclosed in glass). Hopefully Bigs won’t notice all the tape keeping that donut in Duncan’s hand and his hand to his chest. Whatevs.

Elf on a Shelf Day 9

An elf after my own heart!

Hope you all have a wonderfully sweet day!

Kristin

I did it all for the cookie(s)!

Santa and Cookies

I need an elf. Like a real, live, breathing, HELPING elf (Sorry Duncan! I still love you, but you are stuck in a Mason jar right now and obvi cannot help.). I need one that can follow simple instructions, like cleaning cookie sheets or rolling dough into balls and coating the with granulated sugar. Yesterday was Christmas Cookie Baking Saturday.

Christmas Cookies

And I was exhausted. I still sort of am. Yesterday yielded 225 cookies. The ones I chose to bake this year were White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal, Ultimate Ginger, and Eggnog Cookies. I really wanted to go with a theme – a classic Christmas flavor theme. I love a theme!

Christmas

My day started with getting the boys up (Just kidding. They woke me up with their “I’m-ready-to-get-up signaling noises”.) After breakfast, it was all about the cookies! I went through several pounds of butter. Isn’t it therapeutic to watch butter sticks melt? Oh. Just me?

collage_20131207123330956_20131207123355577

I love the smell of melting butter, too. It’s heavenly.

IMG_20131207_123159_20131207123451398

My right-hand-helpers (no thanks to Duncan), my Kitchen Aid stand and hand-held mixers, were very busy, whirring and stirring for hours.

20131207_120625

I made the batter for the White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies first, as it had to sit in the fridge for two hours.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/10/white-chocolate-cranberry-oatmeal-cookies-recipe.html

20131207_120304

When I finally did bake them, they came out perfectly – browned on the edges and bottoms (due to the one pound of butter in the doubled recipe), cranberries glistening, oatmeal giving off the perfect amount of chewiness, and the white chocolate offering up little pockets of creamy sweetness.

20131207_120616

The Eggnog Cookies were next. These were an easy-peasy recipe to use. I love how they turned out. They are very simple, letting the true flavor of eggnog shine through.

20131207_120253

Sprinkled with extra nutmeg, these little sweeties are sure to conjure up lovely holiday memories! My kids and I have gone through at least 2 gallons of eggnog this season so far. It’s so delicious. Bigs calls it “Santa Milk” since some of the jugs of it have Santa on them. I love how kids see things so differently from us old, haggard, jaded adults.

http://iwasborntocook.com/eggnog-cookies/

Next and lastly were my Ultimate Ginger Cookies. I love love ginger cookies. I think you know that, by now.

20131207_120608

This is the second year in a row I’ve done a variation on a ginger cookie. These came out delicious! I love Ina Garten’s addition of crystallized ginger.

20131207_120319

I love how rolling the dough balls in granulated sugar before baking returns a crunchy, but chewy and soft, cookie that looks like it’s been sprinkled with icy snow.

http://www.barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=341&S=0

20131207_120232

All of them, together, in harmony, on a plate. The beautiful flavors that epitomize the season – eggnog, ginger, cranberry.

20131207_125850

These sure would have been a lot easier to make if that elf would have helped! And, sadly (but not really sadly, for this is the purpose!), for as much time as I put into them, these cookies got packaged up (neighbors, teacher, friends, church family, mom group) and doled out quicker than I could say “YULE LOG!!!”. All I’ve got left is crumbs. That’s okay. That’s what it’s all about. I’m sure we’ll receive lots and lots of cookies from other people…right?! Are you cookie-making friends listening?! 😉 I jest (sort of).

Speaking of that elf, he’s been in several different spots since we last spoke.

Elf on a Shelf Day 6

He’s made a mess of toothpaste. Thanks for THAT, Dunc.

Elf on a Shelf Day 7

He’s crammed himself into a mason-esque jar. It wouldn’t so creepy except that I had an almost-too-small jar and I had to sort of almost damage Duncan’s neck to get him in there. Oops.

Elf on a Shelf Day 8

And he made coffee filter snowflakes! What a clever elf he is!

Well, we’ve been very busy in our house, not only baking cookies (me) and wrapping gifts (me), but indulging in the traditions of the holiday (all). Bigs watched “The Polar Express” last year, but didn’t care so much (or understand). At three and a half, he now gets it and LOVES it! I pulled out some old Christmas books I had as a kid (and saved…they are in muy delicado condition, I’d say!) and we’ve been reading those, too.

20131207_105205

If you haven’t seen or read The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg, you MUST. It was one of my favorite books as a child. It is adorable.

And Bigs now tells me that all he wants for Christmas is a new water bottle. Not a bouncy carrot. Great. Well, I’m sure he’ll forget he reneged on that and enjoy the dog toy shaped like a carrot that Santa is bringing him.

So, off to church – the second Sunday of Beautiful Advent. Have a very sweet, blessed Sunday.

In Christ,

Kristin

What a Hassle!

Since I’ve been on my gingerbread kick (which really isn’t so much of a “kick” as it is a “lifestyle” for me right now), I made Bigs’ lunch with a gingerbread theme.

Gingerbread Themed Preschool Lunch

His class also enjoyed the giant gingerbread cookie I made for them the day before. I think most everyone liked it! I was able to bring Smalls in with me and we enjoyed it with the class. Then Bigs’ sweet teacher told them the story of the Gingerbread Man. It was adorable. For this lunch, I cut out gingerbread boy shaped PB&J and used my Food Writers to draw on some faces and buttons. I gave him an applesauce squeezy fruit, some dried cranberries, some holiday shaped Goldfish crackers and a gingerbread boy Peep. And can I tell you how gingerbread-y that Peep tasted? I had to try one, natch. So good!

And our trusty scout elf, Duncan, came again. This time, he got himself into quite the pickle when playing with Bigs’ army men.

Elf on a Shelf Day 5

Who even knows (Pinterest??!) what he’ll be up to next!!

I made Hasselback Potatoes for dinner last night. They looked nothing like the picture on the recipe website. Typical of my cooking.

IMG_20131205_054933

Whyyyy are they so blackey burned in some spots and not browned enough where it should be?

Hassel Potatoes

Once I brushed off most of the blackened bread crumb mixture, they looked better….so…they looked just okay.

20131205_172219

What a hassel

All in all, I’m okay with serving semi-burned food to my family. It isn’t so bad. I served those potatoes (which were more of a HASSLE than a Hassel) with some roasted red pepper & asiago chicken sausage and some fresh fruit.

Whatever. I can bake much better than cook. And if you’re interested in this Hasselback potato recipe, which if you are solely going based on these photos, you should have no interest AT ALL, here is that recipe.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hasselback-potatoes/

Better luck to you.

So what if I used olive oil instead of butter and used the kind of grated Romano cheese that belongs on pizza instead of freshly grated. So what.

Have a wonderful Friday,

Kristin

Alexander the Not-So-Great

Have you ever read the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? I loved that book growing up and still have the same book I owned and read when I was little.

alexander_2011

Today has been a day like Alexander’s. I mean, literally everything I’ve touched has gone terribly awry.

AlexanderTerrible2

I woke up before the alarm (and this happens most of the time). Automatic fail. I decided to start laundry early, since I was up. I do that often, but today I left some of the freshly dried piles in the basket. All wrinkled. Husband’s work clothes – totes wrinkled. And I’m not an ironer.  Gah! My little one, Smalls, likes to fight me during diaper changes. He writhes and wiggles and arches his back and tries to leap off of his diaper changing table (which he’s done). Anyways, I was so fed up with not being able to get his new diaper on, I just let him walk around without it, in protest. Big fat joke on me. What was I thinking?! He walked into the bathroom and peed all over it and the hallway. Puddles everywhere. It’s like he was saving it all for that one moment of diaper-freedom.  He also spit his already-been-chewed Raisin Bran breaky all over his highchair and put it on the floor. I also broke my green ceramic plate by dropping it in the sink. Shattered into a bajillion tiny pieces. At least it wasn’t on the floor. The boys played with their slime (a party favor from a birthday recently – made from glue and borax, etc.)…

20131204_093010

Smalls

20131204_092955

Bigs

…and it got all over my Christmas tablecloth and into Smalls’ hair. See that slime?

20131204_093810

I mean…it won’t come out. He’s going to live with slime in his hair forever. He probably doesn’t even care. I love that slime and the boys do too. It is really fun to play with and usually it is contained. But not today. Because nothing is easy today. I decided to make a giant gingerbread cookie for Bigs’ class tomorrow and the dough (used boxed mix) became so sticky that there almost wasn’t enough for the gingerbread pan. Most of it was on my hand because I had to wet them and pat down the dough to coax it to Gingy’s appendages. Appetizing.

collage_20131204112640830_20131204112702665

We lost a piece from the hat of Bigs and Smalls’ new nutcracker decoration and for sure my dog will eat it. Or Smalls will. And get sick. She (the dog) and he (the baby) alway finds the lost pieces of things…with her and his mouth. I also had the baby gate up to my room and rushed into there, thinking it wasn’t there and totally took a spill. Like, the hardest spill of my life. I just had to lay there in this awkward position I landed in for a few minutes after falling. I wasn’t even sure what to do with my broken self. It really stunned me. And it was so offensive. That dang gate. My outfit choice today (totally my fault) makes me look like an actual sumo wrestler. I walked out of the room for one teeny second and I came back in to see Smalls standing on the dining room table holding (and about to chuck!) one of my Christmas village houses that I have as a centerpiece.  I folded up my stroller and put it away in my trunk with a piece of pizza in the bottom of it (don’t even ask) and a lady yelled at me and tried to run me over with her motorized cart, while we were out and about. And I made chili and put it in the crock pot this morning and accidentally used the can of tomatoes and spicy green chilis so the entire thing was going to be spicy. The small hope I had that Bigs and Smalls would even eat this meal went right out the window! And not to mention, well, to mention, my husband’s new GI health issues cannot handle spice, as he used to be able to. So. It’s jus’ me and my HUGE pot of chili. Just the two of us. And Bigs has been telling me that ALL he wants for Christmas is a bouncy carrot toy. I have no idea what this is. Quite frankly, HE has no idea what that is. When I ask questions (do they have one of these and school or church or does a friend have one), I get no response. Santa??? Are you there? It’s me, Kristin. Help me help YOU help me!! What is this bouncy carrot? I need it. Today. Or at least before Christmas. But sooner would ease my anxiety.

collage_20131204110634510_20131204110701072

Bigs’ letter to Santa, asking for a bouncy carrot.

20131204_092821

Smalls’ letter to Santa, asking for… ?? 🙂

Today is of the hot mess sort. I’m what’s called “done” for today.

I’ll say it – it’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Things can only get better.  Right?? Right!!

My day did get better. Naps helped. I watched The Holiday while the boys slept and that ALWAYS puts me in a good mood. And I finished Bigs’ big gingerbread cookie. Here’s how he turned out. I think he’s pretty cute.

Gingerbread Boy Cookie

That is one big cookie! It’s a HUGE pan (larger than the standard cookie sheet). I’d say the gingy is about 12 inches or so. I hope they enjoy their surprise!

And Duncan was here again!

Elf on a Shelf Day 4

The little rascal is sitting in a bowl of mini marshmallows and is decorating my gumdrop tree and stringing up the marshmallows. Sweet-toofed elf.

Annnnnd, here’s the dumb chili that I’ll be the only one eating for eighty weeks. I browned ground beef with some celery, light salt, pepper, chili powder and onion powder (Out of actual onions…because even though I went to two different stores to get the supplies for this mess since I forgot all the supplies on my first trip, I didn’t get onions. Just because having them would make life too perfect.). I drained the beef and added a packet of no-salt (Hubs watches sodium intake) chili seasoning. I added a can of stewed tomatoes with green chili (unfortunately for my kids), a can of kidney beans and a can of northern beans (all drained). I dumped this all back into the crock pot and kept it on low all day. I served over brown rice. And for 75% of my family, I just served rice, no chili. :/

Chili

I realize my “problems” could be worse. And some days they are. I just needed to get my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day off my chest. Hoping for a much better day tomorrow.

Blessings,

Kristin

Ohhh Christmas Tree…

Vintage Pink Christmas

Ohhh Christmas tree, ohhh Christmas treeeee, how lovely are your branches?

Good morning and Happy Tuesday! Do you have your Christmas tree up yet?

Tree

I love seeing peoples’ Christmas trees. When we go on a walk, I love seeing the twinkling lights through the windows of the homes. Is that creepy?

Tree2

And I love that everyone’s Christmas tree is different. Some have only white lights, some have only colored lights. Some go with the red and gold theme. Some go with the gold and silver theme.

Beautiful Lit Tree

Mine’s a bit of a mish-mash. We have “vintage colored” lights and ornaments from all over – my childhood, places we’ve traveled, gifts. We also have silver tinsel all over it. The boys pick it off all the time, but it adds such an old-timey look to it.  I love it. I love the vintage tree look. I love tinsel trees. I love Christmas trees.

Today is a Christmas Tree themed preschool lunch for my sweet boy!

Christmas Tree Themed Preschool Lunch

I made three different Christmas tree shaped PB&J sandwiches and decorated them with my Food Writers and a few sprinkles. Bigs also has a clementine, which I arranged like a tree and put tree sprinkles on. He has unsweetened applesauce with different tree sprinkles, and lastly, for dessert, he has some red and green sprinkled Goldfish brand cookies and some dried cranberries. I hope he loves it as much as I loved making it!

And Duncan, our elf, came once again (you’ll be seeing this 21 more times HA!)! Silly guy was found in my china cabinet riding a reindeer.

Elf on a Shelf Day 3

Partridge in a Pear Tree

Think you’ll have “Partridge in a Pear Tree” in your head now? I do. I can’t ever seem to remember the whole song.

Have a sparkly, lovely day,

Kristin

Not my Gumdrop Buttons!

Gingerbread House

I have this leeeeettle, teeny obsession fascination with all things gingerbread. I love gingerbread cake, gingerbread cookies, gingerbread cheesecake, gingerbread tea, gingerbread ANYTHING! Once Thanksgiving comes to a close, I tend to leave the pumpkin behind (the horror!!) and move on to be all-consumed with gingerbread.

Candy Land Gingy House

Isn’t that just magical?

I find that my favorite Christmas ornaments and decorations (aside from the sentimental ones) are little gingerbread ones – hanging on the tree, printed on my dishtowels. I just love it. I think it’s iconic to the season. And the actual gingerbread tastes so good to me – spicy, sweet, gingery.

Gingerbread_house_lattice_wall

Supposedly, right now, Twix, Oreo and M&M’s have come out with gingerbread flavored treats. I need to get my hands on those. Yesterday.

(Well – maybe I only need ONE of the above?? See review in link below!)

http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/supermarket-sweets-gingerbread-twix-m-and-m-review.html?ref=title

Gingy

Last year, I made a little gingerbread house that came out adorably. Not perfect, but just perfect. But the real winner of the season was my Husband and Bigs’ gingerbread house from Home Depot. Did you know Home Depot sells gingerbread house kits? Well, they do. And my big boys’ version came out great. I’d say they nailed it.

Gingerbread House Home Depot

Anyways. Maybe we’ll attempt another house this year. I find that Bigs just mostly squirts icing into his mouth and then throws candy in on top of that.

Gumdrops

I have no idea where he learned this behavior from.

<<Insert totally embarrassing photo of myself squirting Publix icing into my mouth during the cookie decorating portion of a Publix tour playdate. Hey! Don’t judge! Publix buttercream is literally THE BEST icing I’ve ever eaten. Try it. Then we’ll talk. PS – I didn’t eat the WHOLE bag of it!>>

Icing Volcano

And I blurred that picture. You can see enough. And trust me – that’s enough. I can’t bring any more shame to my family (LOL).

Here’s how I want to be remembered from that trip! Take note, real-life friends!

Publix Net

Hairnets are classier than an icing volcano erupting in my mouth by my own hands’ work!

Anyways. Enough of that embarrassing stuff.

Gingerbread. Yes. Just yes.

I’ll be making a soft, ginger cookie as one of my cookie choices for Christmas this year.

And today I made lovely gingerbread cakes.

collage_20131202134335866_20131202134406891

When I was mixing up the batter, it smelled so fragrant and spicy.

Cooling Gingerbread

And when the cakes were baking, the entire house was filled with that same delicious scent!

IMG_20131202_012928

And when those sweet little cakes were cooling, I just couldn’t even handle it.

It’s a family friend’s 10th birthday and I just wanted to surprise her and her family with a little dessert. I hope they like it! I used little gingerbread men sprinkles to decorate our friends’ cake. Look at all that drippy, yummy icing. Good grief! Yum!

IMG_20131202_013028

The link for the recipe is below. The only changes I made were using tangerine zest instead of lemon zest (it was all I had and it came out wonderfully) and I used half and half instead of milk. And for the icing, I made my own (did not use the recipe). I mixed some plain cream cheese with a little bit of icing sugar and frozen orange juice concentrate. I love keeping orange juice concentrate on hand. I use it all the time – for icings, stir fry and for homemade fruit snacks.

http://www.joyofbaking.com/GingerbreadCake.html

IMG_20131202_013158

The cakes came out beautifully. For ours, I used some holly sprinkles.

IMG_20131202_013050

Yum.

IMG_20131202_013317

I, of course, had to taste and take a photo, for the blog’s sake.

IMG_20131202_013239

It was really delicious, in case you’re wondering. I hope you were wondering…

IMG_20131202_013217

And it was a very easy recipe. The one bowl sort.

IMG_20131202_013300

A real looker!

So. Please do try that Joy of Baking recipe, if you are looking for a delicious, but easy, gingerbread cake recipe.

And Duncan, our elf, came again. He was in a stocking. Not so creative! HA! Hey, I am keeping expectations low. Saving the “fun” stuff for the end.

 Elf on a Shelf Day 2

Have a sweet and spicy, gingery sort of day!

Kristin

Not my Gumdrop Buttons

Happy December!

Happy December

Happy December! It’s a new month! A month that’s filled, already.

We took the first spin around our neighborhood last night looking at Christmas lights. Bigs is super in to it! It’s so exciting! Most of the homes in one cul-de-sac in our neighborhood collaborate with their Christmas lights and everything is lit up. It’s spectacular!

We had a visitor in our home this morning. He’ll be here through Christmas Eve. Duncan is his name, as you’ll recall, named after Dunkin’ Donuts, our favorite place.

Elf on a Shelf Day 1

Duncan plopped “himself” on my candy wreath. The oil painting is of our precious dog. So far, I have seen Bigs stop himself when about to complain and shift his eyes quickly to Duncan. Day 1 and he’s already doing his job as a “young scout elf”. Go Duncan.

We had our first advent church service. It was beautiful. The church was all decorated with trees and lights and stars and snowflakes. Absolutely stunning.

Also, I made pizza. I used my favorite whole wheat crust recipe and mozzarella cheese and pepperoni!

collage_20131129204402640_20131129204423474

The family gobbled it up.

IMG_20131129_084223

Enjoy your Sunday, the first day of December!

Kristin

Post Gravy Glow

I’m still glowing from my Thanksgiving experience. What? What’s that? I’m not glowing? It’s just gravy on my face? Oh. That’s okay. I really don’t mind. Slurrrrrp!

Over the river and through the woods

Well. Now it’s over. Thanksgiving is over. But I’m still thankful! I’m so thankful for the food that was served, the hands that prepared it, the time that was spent with family, the fresh, cold air. Boy, it sure was chilly out! We loved it! The kids had a wonderful time getting all bundled up and running around my Grandmother’s picturesque backyard. And me?! I loved it too! The cold weather is refreshing. Puts a little color in one’s cheeks!

Me

I jumped on the “selfie” bandwagon, for the sole purpose of my blog. Sue me HA! At least there were no duck lips. You’re welcome.

Thanksgiving really refreshed me. It always makes me feel so good inside to go to where I spent a lot of my childhood, to see my boys run around the same yard my brother and I did, chasing each other, whapping sticks on trees, falling in the mud. It is life, come full-circle. It’s so beautiful to me.

2013112895125928

The boys were SO adorable and had the best time. Listen, as a little aside, I see and am aware of the denim on denim situation on not one but, TWO, children, and I realize it’s not the most fashionable. Perhaps in another lifetime. But they were warm!! Their little exposed cheeks and noses were pink from the crisp air and running around.

20131128_130725

We even threw around a football. We are not a sporty family, but it was so fun playing “catch”. Look how teeny Smalls is holding that “HUGE” football. My little peanut.

2013112895111819

The weather was just perfect. I am so thankful for that. Beautiful sunlight, peeking through the wise, hundred-year-old oak trees made for a perfect backdrop to a gorgeous day.

20131128_123724

Teeny little Smalls (apt name!) loved the freedom to roam and play.

Uncle and Bigs

Bigs and my brother (his favorite Uncle) had so much fun trudging through the woods, wielding sticks, of course! Uncle taught him so many things.

And, at the end of the day, we only had a few casualties in the form of a scrape on Smalls’ nose, lips and hands from falling on the driveway while running, and some muddy shoes and jeans. I’d call that quite a success!

The food was absolutely delicious. Everyone outdid themselves. I adore seeing a potluck-style meal come together. It is so wonderful to me to see the best work of everyone, which is all so varied and lovingly prepared, in one kitchen and then later, on each plate.

collage_20131128201540509_20131128201646552

I could only do one round this time. I was so stuffed. And so blessed to be so.

I didn’t get any turkey pictures before (or after, really) it was sliced. But, it was GOOD. And the skin was crispy and salty, just as it should be. We had that glorious turkey, two kinds of stuffing, fruit salad, ham, broccoli and cheese casserole, green bean casserole, my macaroni casserole, whipped potatoes, honey & cinnamon glazed carrots, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and rolls. Then the desserts. Our plates runneth(‘ed) over.

IMG_20131128_075543

I want it again. Like now. Too bad I finished off my leftovers as a second dinner once the boys were in bed. And pumpkin pie too. And a few bites of the coconut frosting from my rock cake (see below). I regret nothing. Well, maybe one thing – that I didn’t make a Thanks Be To The Sandwich…next time.

IMG_20131128_075604

The Coconut Cake I made was so beautiful, but I must be honest. It was dry as a bone. I was not so happy with it. It was dense. I love a dense cake. Many wedding cakes are dense and I love that. But it was dense and hard. Sort of like a rock. I had it properly wrapped and sealed in the fridge and I followed the recipe almost to a “T” (didn’t keep it in the fridge for 3 days, but instead 2 – and thank God for that!!), but there was just no hope. I think I’ll stick with my other recipe for next year. Big bummer! That face-sized slice just didn’t get finished. Thank goodness there were other desserts (Pumpkin Pie, Apple Crumble Pie, Key Lime Pie).

Now, it’s time to bask in the glow of a lovely holiday and then get my boo-tay in the gym gear for Christmas. And, for now, I’ll be thankful that I am not wearing any makeup and letting my face breathe and that I’m also not in the throngs of people fighting and pushing to get the best deals on Black Friday. My boys and I will stay inside and I’ll go crazy with cabin fever snuggle and cuddle on the couch in our jammies.

I’m so thankful. Just…thankful.

I hope you all had a very blessed, thank-filled day,

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Away in a Manger Scene

We did it! We decorated for Christmas. We always do it the week of Thanksgiving since we travel on the day of and want our home to be Christmas-y upon our return. Bigs was SO excited! This will be a fun year with him. He “gets” it. Smalls, however, is just a typical one year old, plucking the Christmas balls off the tree, yelling, “BALL, BALL!!!”, and throwing them as hard as he can (and he’s freakishly strong) across the living room. I normally put a smaller tree up, as well, that is my “Sweets Tree”, where I put on only dessert and sweets themed ornaments. That one is, sadly, not up this year. I just don’t have the energy to watch Smalls around two trees. I have extra eyes on the back of my head to watch them, but they just aren’t enough. Perhaps next year.

20131126_183947

Bigs was very concerned that the Christmas tree would go away while he napped, while we were away for Thanksgiving and for any other event requiring us to leave the house. Which is a lot. Object permanence isn’t as ingrained as I’d thought. But that will make it more magical and more fun to show him as we get closer to the day. And for him, it’ll be like Groundhog Day, every morning! The tree will still be there, just like yesterday! It is just so wonderful to see this holiday through the eyes of a child. I know that is clichéd (I am shaking my own head at my own self right now), but it truly is.

PicsArt_1385511934549

I just love that skinny little baby arm and hand (left), and that sweet toddler hand (right) coming together on an ornament, placing it on the tree in tandem. I am so in love with them.

20131126_182808

This is the first ornament Bigs made in church last year. I am only slightly concerned because it’s made of paper and you know, light-heat and paper don’t so much mix, but it was too precious not to put up. I love that he constantly sees the images of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. Seeing it over and over will help him learn and then know, with certainty, the true meaning of Christmas. I am truly blessed and thankful for them and my husband.

20131126_182445

Jesus sure is the Reason for this season. Without Him, none of this would be. And that applies to just about everything.

Today I finished making my Coconut Cake. I used a different recipe this year. And as per the usual, I didn’t read the recipe the whole way through before starting on it. That’s how I do. It called for keeping an un-iced, filled cake in the fridge for three days. Luckily, I made the cakes and filling two days before Thanksgiving, so it still worked out. You really think I’d have learned, by now, to read a recipe all the way through before starting on it!

collage_20131127111032351_20131127111101040

http://www.cakeduchess.com/2013/11/coconut-cake-foodmemory-guest-post-magnolia-days.html

The only changes I made to the recipe were that I used sweetened coconut in the filling and used less sugar since it didn’t really specify that the coconut used was sweetened or not. I also added about a half teaspoon of coconut flavored baking emulsion to really enhance that coconut flavor.

http://www.amazon.com/LorAnn-Oils-Emulsion-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B001REJIJM

I love how when I pat the coconut on the frosting, it falls all around the plate like freshly fallen snow. It’s such a show-stopper of a cake (if I can be so bold to say so – I simply just followed the recipe!). So very festive. I cannot wait to eat that piece as big as my face, that I promise myself each year.

IMG_20131127_105520

I also got my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni Casserole made. It is a cinch to throw together and is so delicious. Here is the little beauty going in to the oven.

IMG_20131127_105334

And here she is coming out…melty, ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

IMG_20131127_110231

I can’t wait to dig into it tomorrow.

Here is the recipe.

Bigs and I made pumpkin muffins for breakfast and snack tomorrow. It was a fun little activity for us to do together while Smalls was still napping.

collage_20131127165449171_20131127165512971

We used a shortcut and made them with a store bought cake mix (vanilla). We added one can of pumpkin puree to the vanilla cake mix and stirred like the dickens. We added some ginger and cinnamon and some pumpkin spice bakery emulsion. We baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Oils-Pumpkin-Emulsion-4oz/dp/B00BR25W9E

IMG_20131127_044106

I also put together a snack bento for Bigs for the Thanksgiving car trip. We aren’t going TOO far, but snacks make for a more pleasant ride.

Preschool Thanksgiving Road Trip Snacks

I packed a string cheese, a clementine some 5-grain crackers, a box of raisins, some Newman’s Own popcorn and one of our pumpkin spice muffins. Smalls will have less exciting snacks, in the form of Cheerios. 🙂 I will pack both of them an applesauce squeezy fruit.

Thanksgiving Subway

I hope you all have a VERY blessed, safe, thankful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy the time with your family and friends. And if that’s not how it’s going to turn out, it’s what you make of it! And to those going through hardships and heartache, may you feel God’s warm, loving embrace and presence, and may you find comfort in Him and the blessings (big and small) you have. There is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. God Bless.

I am so thankful for all my friends and family, near and far. And I’m thankful to God for all the blessings He gifts us (and even those He does not!) And I’m also thankful for this blog and all who read it and support me. It means so much more than you can even know. So, thank you. Happy Happy Thanksgiving.

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving