I hope your Christmas was awesome and merry and peaceful and all full of love.
Mine was so very nice and I have to admit pretty relaxing. No traveling. No trip immediately following. Just presents, family, cooking, eating and resting! Oh, and a little more shopping - you know returns, after holiday sales, etc.
I did not really intend to take a blog break but I am guessing I needed it. While I miss hearing from you tremendously, I have not missed being on my computer non-stop like normal.
I cleaned out my kids rooms (to make room for all their new stuff), my make-up drawer and closet (to make room for my new stuff), catching up on laundry (always) , getting ready for guests (coming Tuesday) and guess what I did today?
The end of December?
Planted bulbs. It was soooo warm here today, I really felt the need to do some gardening.
Well, not much else to say except hello, I am sorry I have not visited one blog in about a week and I will be back soon! I hope your new year's eve is festive and safe!
Oh! The pictures above? My friend, Leah Bowman took them.
I. Heart. Them. So. Much.
I think she did a fabulous job, although I have not ordered one photo because it has been so crazy. I did order these on my Christmas card, though so I wanted to share them with you.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
As I was making this tonight, I remembered someone asked for it in my comments last week.
So, here is the easiest fudge you will ever make. Thanks to my super SIL for the recipe.
My mom actually makes the best fudge. I tried for years to duplicate her recipe and it was pretty good - but oh, so involved. This is just incredibly easy and people love it! You can also play with it like I did last week and make different flavors (like Peppermint Fudge). Plus, my mom still makes hers every year, so I take the easy route.
Yield: 4 dozen pieces
1 package (8 Squares) of Bakers Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1 package (6 squares) of Bakers White Chocolate
1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk - divided.
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup chopped Walnuts (optional)
Microwave the chocolate and 3/4 cup of the condensed milk in a medium microwavable bowl on HI for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute and returning to the microwave for the remaining 1 minute. Stir until melted and creamy.
Add Vanilla and walnuts if you want them;mix well.
Spread evenly into a foil-lined 8 inch square pan.
Microwave white chocolate and remaining milk on HI for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute and returning to the microwave for the remaining 1/2 minute. Stir until melted and creamy.
Spread evenly over chocolate.
Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Cut into 48 pieces.
Eat. Give. Share. Eat more.
Okay, now to make Peppermint Fudge, I OMIT the walnuts in the chocolate layer.
I use 3/4 cup Andie's Peppermint chips* instead of the Bakers White Chocolate.
It will be pink! :) I love pink. Then I sprinkle some of the chips on top. Very festive.
*Note: I am having a hard time finding these chips this year. Sooo, if you can't find them in your neck of the woods, go ahead and use the Bakers White Chocolate and add 1/4 tsp of Peppermint extract. Sprinkle with crushed peppermints.
Monday, December 22, 2008
We went Christmas Caroling in our neighborhood last night. One of our neighbors always hosts this for the kids and they really enjoy it. We have hot chocolate and cookies after the caroling. It is a nice thing to do each year.
I don't find many people doing caroling anymore. How about you? Why do you think this tradition has fallen by the wayside so much?
People are too busy. That's my theory.
Okay, so this mom did not get it together and make sure her kids were in Christmas attire. Hey, I was doing good to get them to the party on time.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Here is an easy recipe that is a hit with my kids as long as I use the milder ingredients and serve with cheese and tortilla chips.
Low-Fat chicken Enchilada Soup
2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 large ribs of celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
8 oz of frozen corn - half of a bag
1 can of green chilies
1 carton of low sodium chicken broth
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of Italian flavored diced tomatoes
1 can of mild Rotel tomatoes, drained (skip if you want even less spicy)
3/4 cup mild red enchilada sauce
3 oz. light cream cheese (reserve until the end)
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
pinch of red pepper ( I leave this out )
salt and pepper to taste
I chop up the chicken while it is uncooked and saute it with the celery and onions in a 4 to 7 quart stockpot. You may want to spray the bottom of the pan with a cooking spray.
If your chicken is already cooked, just saute the celery and onions together and then add the chicken with the rest of the ingredients. I do reserve the cream cheese until the end and add it before serving.
Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Extras: Serve with corn tortillas or tortilla chips. Add jack or cheddar cheese when finished. Sprinkle with hot sauce for an extra kick. Top with sour cream. See photos below...
Friday, December 19, 2008
Some people have more than one tree and they decorate them, leave them alone and they are beautiful.
And then there is me. I have one tree that I obsess over for a month. Does anybody else move ornaments, add things, change the topper and on and on?
I had ribbon garland, now it's off. I had an angel at the top. Now the angel is in the tree and a big bow is on top. I found this cool sparkly garland and put it on the tree. And this year I added those big balls stuffed deep in the tree. Basically, I see other people's trees and love them (Michele) and watch HGTV and then I sit there and stare at the tree - and I think, "Now if I just move this one ornament the tree will be peerrrfect!"
I will say that an artificial tree is a lot easier to decorate. Things stay where you put them. You can bend the branches to hold heavier ornaments up and move them where you want them. I like that. If only I could make it smell all would be perfect.
So, tomorrow will be the last Souper Saturday until after the new year. I will be surprised if anyone even joins in tomorrow as busy as everyone is, but please do if you can! I have several friends that are loving your recipes.
I am pretty much, very close, almost finished shopping. I am heading out tonight to pick up a couple things. I have not even been to the mall this Christmas season! Can you believe it? So, I thought I would head there tonight.
So, I leave my kiddos here with dad so they can play the Wii all night and stay up later than usual. They will have a ball.
On with the merriment!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
He ate it up and still does.
7 DAYS PEOPLE!!!!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
My favorite Christmas songs right now - inspired by Jo-Lynne. Please join in!
1. Love Came Down at Christmas Time - Jars of Clay
2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman - Bare Naked Ladies/Sarah Mclachlan
3. O Holy Night - any
4. Christmastime is Here - The Chipmunks
5. Breath of Heaven - Amy Grant
6. Mary, Did You Know? - any
7. The Christmas Song - any
8. Come All Ye Faithful - Casting Crowns (new)
9. While You Were Sleeping - Casting Crowns (new) - This is a great new album.
10. Joy - George Winston, December
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I almost forgot about this.
Is it really December 15 already?!?!? Crazy.
Not much change in the front door this year from last. So, come on in!
I've made some Molasses cookies, Peppermint Fudge and sugar cookies
just for you!
I just got this cute little shabby chic tree at a new antique shop in my town. I loved it and it sits with photos of the kids from Christmas past in the entry way table.
And this little ensemble sits right on my desk. Just some greenery from my yard, spray painted sticks and some fake red thingys there. It makes me feel happy - the scent is nice while I am on the computer. I actually use a lot of greenery from my yard to decorate.
See, here is another one I made up that sits on my counter.
I started with a $4.00 Poinsettia and added the green stuff in the bottom.
added the flowers just like above.
More hanging ornaments. I just got some inexpensive bulbs from WM and hung them from my ceiling this year right in front of the mirror over the mantle. (fishing wire and those cool little clear removable hooks) Thank you HGTV for that little idea. I also got these cool mercury candle holders there on my mantle but you can't see them very well. They are really shimmery.
Here is a better look at them and I also changed that taller red candle to this very cool Santa my MIL gave me last year.
The kids white tree.
They really wanted a white tree this year.
So, here it is at the top of the stairs right between their rooms.
Thanks for visiting! May the spirit of Christmas be with you all year round!
Monday, December 15, 2008
My real estate friend just posted this a week or so ago on her blog. She is so smart - I miss living close to her.
Anyway, it's such a great post about how to price a home in a declining market and how some people just are not budging on price even though the housing market right now does not demand the higher price. Some have simply priced their houses too high and are basing that price on the market a year ago.
I also wonder if the folks that list their houses so high realize how it hurts the surrounding neighborhood.
If houses are sitting on the market for 120+ days then people looking at that area start to wonder what is wrong.
Now, I don't want to go around dispensing real estate advice. I will let Krisstina do that. But if I remember one very important thing from my short-lived real estate career it is to price your house right.
For the love of all that is good in this world, price your house right.
It will sell faster, you will be able to go out now and find a new house AND pay less for it in this market and it will be better for your neighbors resale later.
Okay, off my box now.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Souper Saturday is taking a break today. We are in a parade, going to a Christmas production, friends coming over and of my house looks like a bunch of elves came in and messed it up! Ti's the Season.
Click HERE to a past one with lots of great recipes!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This morning has been one filled with taking of all kinds of things that have piled up. Several reviews and bloggy business. I apologize for all of that and have tried to post the reviews on my other blog and spread them out between today and tomorrow.
Along with that, finishing up Christmas cards, packing gifts for shipping and cleaning out a basket of miscellaneous papers that have seriously piled up - I have practically not moved from my home office since taking B to the bus stop and making Bubby lunch.
It is such a good day for it anyway - it's raining and the temperatures are dropping. I hate being out in the rain and cold.
One last thing I want to mention is about this Savvy Source/Leap Frog quiz on my sidebar. It's been there for a couple months now and I have not even shared what it is. And it is something pretty cool!
The Savvy Source is a website powered by parents for parents full of information parents want to know about child development, holiday gift guides and even preschool ratings.
They along with Leap Frog (love Leap Frog!) have developed this and other quizzes to help you gauge your child's development. The Savvy Source will even give you a list of toys appropriate for your child's development and gifts after you complete the various quizzes on their website.
Just start the quiz that is listed in my sidebar to begin.
On a side note, we got Bubby a Leapster 2 for Christmas. He said he wanted a DS, but I just think he is too young for it, so the Leapster 2 seemed to be the perfect answer to that little issue.
They had a special package at Target with the Clone Wars game and he LOVES the Clone Wars. So, score one for mom, I mean Santa!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Just call me Robin's copy cat this week! But this is one of the reason I follow her blog - she posts cool stuff!
I actually did see this video last week on a site called the Mother Letter Project -which you should check out - um 'cause it is about the most romantic thing ever!
So, Robin at Pensieve asked this question regarding this video.
How does this resonate with you?
THEN this Sunday at church we kicked off a our Christmas Giving to build some wells in the Central African Republic with ICDI. Our church raised enough money to build 29 last year!
So, seeing it twice, raising money to dig wells...yeah, something told me I needed to share it with you.
Food (or water) for thought, huh?
Monday, December 8, 2008
Jo-Lynne from Musings of A Housewife had this fun little meme this past weekend. Since I am trying to head out early today to actually work out at the gym that I pay for, I thought this would be good to post ahead. Let me know if you play along!
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper for the kids and sometimes for others if I am in the mood to be creative. Gift bags are great though and I use them a lot, too!
2. Real tree or Artificial? Oh, I love the real thing but we got an artificial one this year. The kids have some allergies and we thought we would give it a try for a few years.
3. When do you put up the tree? Whenever we get it. It happened to be this past weekend. It usually is the second weekend in December, though.
4. When do you take the tree down? I like to take it down New Years Day. I really want my house back to normal as soon as the holidays are over.
5. Do you like eggnog? Nope. One of the few in the world that don't.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? This doll that rode a bike as you pulled her along. Barbies were always my favorite.
7. Hardest person to buy for? Brother in law.
8. Easiest person to buy for? Me! Oh, this isn't about me, is it? Okay, the kids.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? 2 of them. One my husband's grandmother hand painted and a Little People set the kids love to play with.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail them, definitely! This is one of my favorite things about Christmas - running to the mailbox each and every day to see what cards have arrived!
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? One year my parents decided that we would become affiliated with a religion that does not celebrate Christmas. Yeah, it was an interesting childhood. Anyway, that was not a good year.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? I love Rudolph.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I start in October sometimes and am shopping up until Christmas Eve most of the time. There are great deals on Christmas Eve!
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No. Okay yes - but I told the person it was a gift to me first and I thought they would enjoy it more.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies and my hubby's rib roast
16. Lights on the tree? yes, of course. I like white, kids like colored. This year I am going to try mixing them.
17. Favorite Christmas song? God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: Especially the one by the Bare Naked Ladies/Sarah Maclaclan and the one by Jars of Clay - both great.
18.Travel at Christmas or stay home? This changes each year. We head to Charlotte, NC some years. Both sets of our parents moved from Missouri to North Carolina now. So, we seldom travel out of state.
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixon! Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen! But do you recall… the most famous reindeer of aaaaaaaaaall… Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! (Rudolph is my favorite movie, remember?)
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I have both and switch depending on my mood that year. But most of the time, I tie a big huge bow with the streamers hanging down the sides of the tree.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning! When I was a teenager my mom let us open a couple on Christmas Eve.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The extreme hustle and bustle. Traffic. Stress. Mean people. It's Christmas mean people! Get a grip.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Red and green, traditional
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Hubby's Rib Roast and his creme brulee
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? I would love a new iPod and an iMac would be soooo awesome. Mostly just time with family. Lofty - I would love for every person in the world to have clean water and to feel loved.
Merry, Merry - your turn. Be sure to let me know in the comments if you do.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
****edited to reflect collaborative effort of this project****
I found this website, I Am Second, through Robin at Pensieve and wanted to share it with you.
I can't even begin to explain it because it just speaks for itself. I can tell you that it is videos of all kinds of people, famous and not telling their amazing stories of letting God taking over in their lives.
The photo above shows Brian Welch, former band member of Korn. His story? Wow.
Looking for someone or something more familiar? Well, I am sure you will find it - the site covers anything you, or someone you know, may be dealing with - from abuse to difficulties in your marriage, or from addiction to just what your purpose is in life.
Here is Josh Hamilton's video.
While the creators have remained on the down-low it seems that this site has been the collaborative effort of "no less than a dozen really, really talented, Jesus loving,
passionate people, says Trey Hill.
I just want to point you to a couple sites of those involved in making this happen. Led by two -time Emmy nominated directors, Sam Ditore and Scott Mayo of Ditore Mayo Entertainment
From their site...
Meaningful stories need to be told. And told well. That’s what we do.
Trey Hill: Photographer, Writer, Editor
Straight from his bio...
I often linger on details most people miss. It’s a habit that comes from my belief that beauty lives deep inside un-special things. You may have to look a little longer and a little harder to see it, but in the short space between my shutter’s opening and closing something profound happens.
A redemptive blink is made available for savoring.
As a photographer, I’m trying to prodigally pursue the beauty hidden inside of ordinary things.
I will just echo Robin in saying, if you are strong in your faith - visit the site. If you are not sure how you feel about about God - visit the site. Just visit the site - I don't think you will be disappointed.
I Am Second,