Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Come on in, Baby New Year (and bring some Kleenex)

We've had a lousy week of sickness between Christmas and New Years so I don't have much to report, other than I've learned two things in the last 72 hours:

1) When kids feel bad, they feel BAD.  When they start to feel better, their resilience is AMAZING and inspiring.

2) I have a lot to learn as a mom!!

Happy New Years to you all -- may 2010 be a year of great health, happiness, and wonderful memories for everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Merry

This is my last post before the holiday, so Merry Christmas to all!  
Have a wonderful time with family and friends!


Oh Boy Oreos

I've scoured the Internet for new Christmas treat recipes and have come up with some new favorites (my hips say thank you).  So here's a decadent chocolate dessert that's good for these reasons:

Travels well, if you're bringing potluck
Great presentation
Rich chocolately taste
Did I mention easy?

Oreo Truffles

Ingredients: 1 box of Oreos or similar sandwich cookie (didn't try using the mint filling ones but I bet they'd be good); 8 oz. of cream cheese (softened); 2 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips/chocolate bars

Directions: Crush all of the Oreos until they're fine.  You can use a rolling pin and 1-2 zip lock bags or a Cuisinart.  I've tried both ways -- the Cuisinart is definitely easier.  Mix 3 cups of the Oreo crumbs and the cream cheese thoroughly.  Using a spoon for this takes a long time; I prefer using my (clean!) hands.  Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls; you'll end up with approximately 40-45.  Put them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and then refrigerate for 1 hour so they can harden up a bit.  Melt the semi-sweet chocolate however you like (microwave, stovetop, etc.).  Remove the truffles from the frig and "roll" them in the melted chocolate.  I used 2 forks to get each one covered in chocolate and carefully put them back on the wax paper.  You'll need to work pretty fast so that the melted chocolate doesn't get too thick and that the truffles stay cold (when they warm up, they're harder to coat).  You'll see from the photo that I also coated some in white chocolate -- it didn't melt as smoothly as the dark semi-sweet chocolate but the white chocolate fan in our house (Lee) seemed to like them.  Decorate the truffles as you go along -- sprinkle the remaining Oreo crumbs over the tops or use crushed candy canes.  When done, put them all back in the frig for a couple hours or at least until the chocolate hardens.  If you give them out as gifts, remember to tell the recipients to keep the truffles in the frig -- a cold truffle is a good truffle :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ping Pawn

Lee and I have become addicted to a new show on the History Channel.  It's called Pawn Stars and we caught a marathon of it around Thanksgiving and now we're hooked.  The best way to describe it is "Antiques Roadshow meets NASCAR."  Before you say "yuck" let me give you a basic synopsis.  The three guys pictured above (grandfather - father - son) have owned the last independently operated pawn shop in Las Vegas for over 20 years.  Pawn shops used to make me think of dirty, seedy stores that only drug users patronized (yes, I'll admit that was a little judgemental).  But the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is more of an antique store.  Rick (the guy in the middle) is a giant history buff and knows everything there is to know about Americana, firearms, art, jewelry, you name it.  Plus, he's just really likeable.  The whole family is a little rough around the edges (hence the "meets NASCAR" description) but you overlook the tattoos and cussing when you're getting a 30-minute history lesson.  Lee, of course, is DYING to go visit their shop...I guess I am too just a little.  In the meantime, we'll continue to meet up with our Harley-loving friends every Monday night via the television.  (PS -- Yes, I have mistakenly called the show "Porn Stars."  That was the same day I said "graham crapper" instead of "graham cracker."  Is there such a thing as verbal dyslexia?  Because I have a serious case of it!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Redneck Solution

What do you do when your napping child is around the corner from your kitchen and you really need to crush Oreos for a dessert you have to take to work tomorrow?  Obviously, you take your noisy, old Cuisinart to your backyard and plug it in behind your garage.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let There Be Light

I love that our little block is full of Christmas cheer.  Almost every house is decorated with lights or other Christmas paraphernalia.  Sigh.  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mine's Lands End; His is Macy's

Note to self:  when you're out shopping for yourself, you REALLY need to remember what is in Lee's closet too, otherwise you'll end up having more moments like this.  And you really don't want to be that couple, do you?!?!?

Sensitive Eyes

I love my Nikon.  It's so nice having a heavy camera that has a great zoom.  What I am missing, however, is a triple-flash so that we can avoid blinky pictures like these....we average about 5-6 a day now.  It's a bummer.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mooning New Moon

I'm behind in relaying this story -- it happened a couple weeks ago but it's SO worth sharing.

We met some friends for dinner at a wonderful Chinese restaurant called New Moon that we love in Montrose.  It's a little on the classy side and has a beautiful bar area.  Here's a photo I "borrowed" from their website:

Yes, we did take Nathan but we got there at 5pm -- we wanted to avoid having him disturb the more serious Chinese food patrons.  But to our surprise, the restaurant was full at 5pm; I guess it's popular.  I did get a glaring look from one table that said "seriously, why are you bring that little boy in here??" but I ignored it (they didn't know it but I know that this restaurant visit was very rare -- we try to be considerate of other people). 

So, for the most part, during dinner he was a good kid.  When he started to get a little noisy I took him outside and we walked around the block 1-2 times.  When we came back inside, he stood next to my chair and played with the strap on his highchair.  I was able to re-join our friends in conversation and keep an eye on Nate.  Or so I thought.  I looked down at one point to see Nate moving his legs weird and then I realized HE HAD TAKEN HIS PANTS OFF.  He didn't use his hands at all -- his shoes had tugged at the pants cuffs and he somehow managed to pull them down without using his hands.   Amazing.  Lee says my face was akin to this at this moment:

Maybe I'm exaggerating a little but I've never been so surprised.  I tried to avoid looking at that disapproving table because I can only imagine what they were thinking.  Actually, we all had a good laugh about it.  But mark my words -- next time we go out to eat, Nate will be wearing a jumpsuit or something else that's one-piece.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Memories #1

Christmas Eve Pageant, 198?
Yes, that's me as Mary.  And what has me laughing isn't Uncle Leonard as Joseph, but Eric buried under that enormous white beard as a Wise Man.  I wonder if he could even breath in that thing?

Only 372 Days To Go!

It's a little sick that I'm already thinking about this but here are some things I'd like to make for NEXT YEAR'S Christmas:

Gumdrop Tree


Gumdrop wreath


Cinnamon-Salt Dough Ornaments


Advent Calendar

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Glad I Remembered the Pants!

Last night it became very apparent that I have many things on my mind.  How, you ask?  I put Nate in the bathtub -- and he was still wearing socks.  I guess I got sidetracked while undressing him and never reached down to pull off the socks. So in they went.  It was pretty funny. 

Moral of this short tale: I need to take a deep breath and focus on Jesus' birth and less on the cookie-baking, party-attending, package-mailing, present-wrapping tasks I have glaring at me on my To Do List. 
Breathe in, breathe out.  Repeat. 
Much better.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


How do you display the Christmas cards you receive?  On a door or a wall, in a basket or tin?  This year I found a giant glass vase in my garage, filled it with a few spare glass ornaments and in seconds had a festive way to keep our cards organized (cuz I'm all about being tidy).  By the way, that's about 4-6 years worth of Christmas photo cards in that vase, with 4 cards from this year mixed in.  I can't bring myself to throw out old photo cards -- they're too much fun to look at every December.  Besides, Nate is going through a "faces" phase and is enjoying them too.

Nobody Puts Santa Baby in a Corner

I have a plastic Santa from the 60s that is suppose to light up when he's plugged in but I need to get the cord redone.  In the meantime, I brought Santa into the house today and gave him a little sponge bath.  Nate was cautiously intrigued with this plastic Santa, given his history with St. Nick.  Santa is less than 1 foot shorter than Nate so they look like playmates when standing side-by-side.  At one point this afternoon, Santa fell over and made a loud noise on the kitchen linoleum.  I may have mentioned before that my son is  not a big fan of loud noises.  This didn't seem like it was extra loud but it still sent Nate into a tizzy and he clung to my neck for dear life.  I told Nate he didn't have to play with Santa any more and I turned Santa away so that we/Nate didn't have to look at him.  It wasn't until a little while later did I realize how funny Santa looked standing on the floor -- doesn't it look like Santa is having a Time Out?  Ohh, maybe he's been naughty.  Now wouldn't that be ironic....


In Southern California, we think 50 degrees F is below freezing.  We admit it -- we're wimps.  If you were used to years of balmy winter days in the mid 70s, you'd be a wimp too when the temp dipped.  So the fact that we've had a couple nights in the low 30s this week means we're one step away from calling Sarah Palin our governor (vague Alaska reference).  Seriously.  It's cold.

Here's a picture of the frost on our garage at 8:30am this morning.  Yes, I think frost warrants a photo.  If you live in the Midwest you probably don't see what the big deal is -- just humor me, okay?  It's amazing that I even know the word frost.

So what do Californians do on wintery days in mid-December?  What everyone does -- we make lemonade!

Well, maybe not everybody makes lemonade except for those people in Florida but our neighbor's lemon tree is bursting with lemons.  She gave us some and they've been sitting in a bowl on top of my frig for a while.    So -- ta da -- I made lemonade...while I was wearing mittens and a big coat because it's still only 65 degrees (just kidding).

Crackles for Kris Kringle

Jessica Turner is hosting a virtual cookie recipe exchange tomorrow (Thurs. Dec. 10th), so check out her blog here so you can drool over lots of tasty Christmas treats.  Here's my submission:

Call me strange, but I'd rather eat a spice cookie than a chocolate chip one (I told you I was odd).  This recipe has loads of lovely spice flavor and, as an added bonus, will make your  house smell wonderful when they're baking in the oven.  This recipe is in my Top 5 Christmas Cookie collection.  Enjoy!

Four Spice Crackles 
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2/3 cup coarse granulated sugar

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl, cream together the brown sugar, butter, and shortening.  Stir in the molasses and egg.  Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until everything is incorporated.  Cover and chill dough for at least 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Roll the chilled dough into 1 inch balls.  Roll each ball in the coarse sugar.  If you do not have coarse sugar, you can use regular sugar (I use colored coarse sugar on 1/2 of my dough).  Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 9-12 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are cracked on top but still soft in the center (9 mins. will give you a softer cookie -- I push for the full 12 because I like mine crisp).  Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.  Store cooled cokies in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  Makes 4 dozen.

Nate says:  "Forget the cookies...I want to play with the wire rack!"

Not Exactly Brokeback But...

Cowboys are sensitive men...and their horses need affection once in a while.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Reading Thoughts

You're probably thinking "oh, that's so cute.  Look at Nate studying his nativity set."

Nate's thinking "cool, look at all of these colorful things that I can suck the lead paint off of."

And I'm thinking "I feel really guilty leaving the poor baby Jesus in the box but he looks too little and Nate might choke on him."

I'm also thinking "I hope nobody notices that the manger is sitting atop a rubber container.  Classy!!"

Nate's also thinking "I hope my mom doesn't notice that I've already removed the paint off on Mary's head.  Yum, it was tasty."

Now you're thinking "where the phone number of Child Protective Services?"

Candle in the Wind

Hey, look!  It's Sir Elton John!

Okay, fooled you.  It's really me in funny snowman glasses.  But I did sing a rousing rendition of Crocodile Rock immediately after this photo was taken.  Thankfully, it wasn't captured on video or film.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our Toddler-Proof Tree

I hope it's toddler-proof.  He hasn't shown any interesting in pulling it down from the table, thank goodness.  Even if he does, I decorated it with ornaments that I won't cry over if they all end up broken on the floor (unlike my Shiny Bright ornament collection that remains in the garage).

Who are those people?

We have a cute new picture frame that says "Christmas 2009" on the red mat.  I'd like to put a picture of the three of us in this frame but I have a feeling that may not happen.  Somebody would be awfully disappointed to have the fake family picture that came with the frame disappear (photo above will give you a clue as to who this "somebody" is).  It has a dog in the picture, for crying out loud.  You know how little boys love their dogs...our little boy loves this dog.  And, no, we're not getting a yellow Lab no matter how many times Nate "asks" for one.

Friday, December 4, 2009

50s Friday

For all you newlyweds out there (Tracy!) -- tips on buying shirts for your husband aka Dream Boy, as it says in the ad (snicker snicker).

Christmas Memories -- sponsored by Shutterfly

Nate and I make a quick stop at the mall this morning and I circled around so we could walk by Santa Claus.  I wanted to see how he would respond after crying with Santa just last night.  His reaction -- none; he didn't look Santa's way.  But I'm glad I did because I got to see the cutest group of 10 4-year olds get their picture taken with St. Nick.  They had walked across the street with their 3 teachers from the Burbank YMCA Daycare and they took the sweetest group picture you've ever seen.  Central casting couldn't have picked a better looking group of kids -- they were such a colorful mix of nationalities that it made me think "God Bless America."  And then they all waved goodbye to Santa as they left and Mr. Claus yelled out "I love you" and at that moment, seriously, I almost cried.

In case you're wondering (because an elf practically assaulted me before I could walk away) what it costs these days to sit on Santa's lap for a photo, the lowest priced "Santa and Me" package is $17 for 2 3x5s (includes a $10 giftcard to Shutterfly) and the highest priced package is $49 (whoa) that includes 4 5x7s, 4 3x5s, 8 wallets, a photo on a Flash Drive, a plush toy, and a $20 giftcard to Shutterfly.  Really, that's a pretty good deal...if your kid doesn't cry or jump off Santa's lap like mine does.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ho Ho Ho -- No No No

Nate's not a big fan of the Man in Red.


(notice Nate's wet sweatshirt around the collar --
he chewed on it in the car on the drive up to church Santa's workshop.)


Our tiny reindeer -- ah, so cute!

Britax - 1; Tiffany's - 0

Life is certainly different when you use your annual Christmas bonus from work to purchase this:

Instead of what you REALLY want which is this:

(slight exaggeration / artistic license taken by the author)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Wreath from Candyland

Don't you just love this wreath?  I do.  It says "come on in and join us for some fun Christmas cheer!  We're making gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies!"  I found it on Etsy -- it's for sale here along with other beautiful wreaths.  If you're looking for unique Christmas decorations and gifts, Etsy is the BEST place to shop.  I recently ordered a design for our Christmas cards from an Etsy seller.  And I may be buying a wreath soon.....hmmm.

We're Talking about The Big Time Here

In my quest last week for the perfect Thanksgiving side dish recipe, I stumbled across the blog of The Pioneer Woman.  I'm a little late joining the PW party -- but I'm now a fan and follower (despite the fact that she's an 'SC alum).  If you think blogs are just sweet, little online journals for stay-at-home moms, you're wrong and The Pioneer Woman blows that theory out of the water, big time.  A recent LA Times article on Ree Drummond states that 2 million people view her blog each month.  Yes, you read that right.  Her blog helped her publish a cookbook that is currently on the New York Times bestseller list.  She frequently has giveaways of really nice merchandise that she often pays for herself out of the revenue generated by the advertising on her site.  For instance, today she gave away 3 Kitchenaid mixers.  When I entered my name in the drawing this morning it was two hours after she first posted about it and my entry was #400 and something on the 10th page of entries.  Tonight, there are over 98 pages of entries -- my computer froze when I tried to see how many people that was.  Crazy!!  Needless to say, she's one popular lady.  I'd recommend you taking a few moments to look over her blog.  She is super funny -- you will laugh out loud at some of the things she writes.  Her website contains recipes, stories about her family, and beautiful photography.  You'll get hooked, trust me.

Fa-La-La-La-La, La-La-La-La

I love Christmas music, big-time.  I could listen to it year-round, but I think it would drive Lee bonkers.  So the minute Thanksgiving is over, the music I play in the house every day switches from my favorite online radio station (Campfire Radio) to my collection of Yuletide songs on iTunes.  For the past 4 years, I've created a Christmas soundtrack to give out as gifts.  Each year I try and create a varied mix of old standards and new songs by a wide range of musicians -- from Peggy Lee to Ole Blue Eyes to  Sarah McLachlan.  

In 2007, I stumbled upon a Christmas album by Mindy Smith.  If you love Christmas music too, I highly recommend this album.  There are 6 new songs that Mindy wrote, all of which I love, and standards like Silver Bells and Away in a Manger. 

What are your favorite Christmas tunes?  Two of my favs are Someday at Christmas by Stevie Wonder  and Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel (any version).

(VERY) Brief Turkey Day Review

Hello?  Anybody still out there??

On Thanksgiving, our family --

 relaxed by candlelight and

ate scrump-diddly-umptious food.

How was your holiday?