Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter Wonderland

B and I spent a lazy morning last week cutting out paper snowflakes for the Connecticut PTSA.  They are asking for students around the country to make snowflakes to be hung throughout the "new" school building that the Sandy Hook students will return to after their winter break.  Their goal is to make the school into a "Winter Wonderland" for their first day back to school.  

For about an hour we cut, glued and glittered.  It was a nice hour doing a simple activity with my sweet daughter before Christmas break comes to an end.

I even let B take some picture with the new camera Santa got me this year.  Not sure if she enjoyed making the snowflakes or being a photographer more.

While the Connecticut PTSA is no longer accepting paper snowflakes there are still other ways to help.  For more info you can visit their website.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Do I Have To Pick A Team

My father and brothers have always been Giants fans, like so many Jersey-ites, but I can't say I was a true fan like them.  I only really got excited when the Giants made it to the Super Bowl because that meant my mother would let us eat chips, dip and subs in front of the TV.  To a ten year old that was a divine dinner!

Then in college I met a die-hard Redskins fan, Hubby.  Even his grandmother and mother are big fans!  A love for the Redskins seems to run in their veins, so it should not have come as a surprise to me that our children are true Skins fans too.  All three kiddos could sing "Hail To The Redskins" before they were even three. This has led to some epic wagers between the kiddos and my dad over Redskins-Giants games with the loser having to pay up at Dairy Queen. As far as the kids are concerned they win either way!  

I have a feeling my family might think that I am a traitor but it is really too hard not to share in their excitement on game day! (Hubby's note- Huge game tonight as the winner takes the NFC East and a playoff spot! #HTTR!)

   "Fight on, fight on! Til you have won, sons of Washington!"

Friday, December 28, 2012

Diet Starts Monday

I just could not help myself this morning!  I should have had oatmeal or egg whites with whole wheat toast but no I just had to indulge in a Berger cookie that my sweet brother in law picked up for me on his trip to Baltimore last week.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of eating a Berger cookie, it is a thin vanilla cake-like cookie topped with dense chocolate fudge frosting.  It is not so much about the vanilla cookie as it is about the awesome fudge topping!

Hot cup of coffee plus a fudge topped cookie equals a great start to another relaxing day of Christmas vacation!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Share Share It's Only Fair

I have been dying to tell you about one of my gifts for Hubby but since he is my editor I had to hold off until now.  In November when everyone was pinning gift ideas I saw multiple pins for a cocktail of the month club which led me to Julibox.  I just knew that it was perfect for Hubby!

Once a month Julibox will mail Hubby a package with two recipe cards and the fixins for two of each cocktail for total of four cocktails a month.  Last night Hubby was kind enough to shake up two Magi Sours for us to enjoy while relaxing with some of our Christmas books. (Hubby's note- The drinks were really good. Fingers crossed the next month or two includes whiskey and/or bourbon. For the record if you or your significant other like rye whiskey try Catoctin Creek, it is another NoVA product worth a try.) 


After a cold and icy day a yummy cocktail and a good book was the perfect way to end the day.  I hope you were able to relax and enjoy Boxing Day too! (Hubby's note- Neither of the two books above are mine. I'm not really a "Ten Girls to Watch" kind of guy.)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Laughing All The Way

While some might have been dreaming of a white Christmas, we were enjoying a small snow storm on Christmas Eve.  

After a couple of small outfit changes - boots not heels- we slowly made our way to Christmas Eve Mass.  This year's children's choir truly did a wonderful job!  B found great humor in my excitement but I could not help it...they played all of my favorites!!! 

After mass our resident grill master, Hubby, treated us to a wonderful grilled pork with just the right amount of "kick".  The kiddos were so excited they could barely sit still for dinner. Luckily they were willing to work with me and take some photos in front of the tree.

"What fun it is to laugh and sing!"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Night Before The Night Before

Every year I say that the 23rd of December will not be a crazy day with too much to do in too little time.  And every year it is!  For one reason or another my "to do" list on the 23rd just always gets away from me.  

I never felt like the day got away from my mother but I do remember running all over Essex County trying to get it all done before Christmas Eve.  When I look back and remember that time, I just adored it!  We shopped, baked and made my mother drive around the block so she could hear "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" on the radio.

Maybe my mom was stressed out by her "to do" list.  Maybe she didn't really have the time to drive around our neighborhood just so we could listen to a silly song.  But she did so with a smile!

I pray that my children will look back on the 23rd of December as a busy yet fun day.  Baking, shopping, wrapping but most of all laughter!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch

This week three of my dear friends and I were able to be "ladies who lunch".  We got off of our sofas, put the bon-bons down, got dressed up and we all met up at one of our favorite local restaurants.  

We might have gotten there at 11am and stayed until 2pm, but we really had a lot to chat about!  Sometimes I feel like I should type up an agenda or at least bring some notes.

Ex-blogger A ordered the Shrimp Po-boy Sandwich.  It looked and smelled so yummy!  And who does not love an onion ring?

As soon as I heard the fish special involved grouper and capers - I was sold!  Plus it came with brussell sprouts!!!  Was it rude that I stopped talking for a bit so I could enjoy this lovely plate?

I might have said that everyone could not order a repeat dish but Author Mary and Crafty J both really wanted the steak salad.  Who was I to say no?  Caesar salad, french fries, fried onions and thin slices of flank steak cooked to order.  What is not to love!?!

I know I have said this before but I am beyond blessed to have such great friends!  They even love me  despite the fact that I have no filter on what I say.  But I promise that I am working on that....

And that day got ever better when I got home and saw that our Christmas cards had finally arrived   Let's just say that I will never use a free shipping coupon for Christmas cards again!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Comfort And Joy

I love to cook and bake.  Both bring me such joy!  It might be because at this stage of my life I love a simple project with a beginning and an end.  I have baked "take home" treats for my kiddos' teachers numerous times but this week I really wanted to bake for everyone.  I know that last Friday has weighted heavily on all teachers so I turned to my Gram's tried and true coffee cake.

Coffee Cake - My Gram's recipe

1 yellow cake mix (I always use Pillsbury but I am biased)
3 sticks of unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 
3 teaspoons cinnamon

Cake: Mix cake mix according to the package directions.  Line jelly-roll sheet pan with tinfoil.  (Forgive me Gram but I use parchment paper.)  Under-cook approximately 5 minutes.

Topping: Melt 3 sticks of butter.  After removing from the heat add the vanilla.  Combine flour, brown and white sugar, and cinnamon.  Combine with the melted butter to create crumb topping.  Carefully place topping on cake by hand.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 or util lightly brown.  Cool and enjoy!!!

Might be a Jersey thing but Gram always called this coffee cake since you eat with your morning coffee.  Totally makes sense to me but then again I am a Jersey girl!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rose And Thorn

This is the season for hustle and bustle!   So much to do but so little time!!! Which is why I really enjoy a boring old Monday night family dinner.  No crazy menu that takes forever to make.  And no need to clean the house from top to bottom since my kiddos are not impressed by an immaculate house.

While B was still in preschool we started doing "rose and thorn" at the dinner table.  Each person at the dinner table informs the rest of the best thing that happened that day (the rose) and the worst thing that happened that day (the thorn).

Some days the thorns are hard to hear but I would rather hear about them then have my children hold them in!  (Side note - how cute are B's pink and green nails?)

Lucky, Hubby and I have been blessed to hear many "roses" at our family dinner table! And no matter what comes during Rose and Thorn, our kiddos seem to just make each other laugh.  And laugh and laugh! 

If a child's laughter is not a "rose" I don't know what is!  What do you do to get your children to share the highs and lows of their day?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Not Store Bought Nog

I have been blessed to have many wonderful friends in NoVa.  These are dear friends that I know I could call at any hour of the day if we needed help.  In fact they feel more like family than just friends! 

So in the Christmas spirit we invited our near and dear friends over on Saturday night.  I started preparing for Saturday's dinner on Friday night.  I cleaned and made sauce for the lasagna but most importantly I made the egg nog!

Nine years ago a co-worker from Harold's (a now defunct clothing store) shared with me her family recipe for egg nog after much begging on my part.  The recipe calls for a LOT of eggs (separated), 2 pounds of powdered sugar, heavy cream, whole milk and too many cups of bourbon (Hubby's note- there is no such thing as too many cups of bourbon). Once mixed the egg nog in poured into 12 mason jars in true "Moonshiners" fashion.  

After dinner and crafts each family leaves with a jar of egg nog.  I have been told that it is a great "adult" goodie bag.  I hope it is since my friends deserve the best!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

On Right Now II

As I type this the kiddos and Hubby are in the family room watching "Christmas Story" together.  Hubby just loves this movie and he is trying to instill a love of it in our children too. (Hubby's note- I am watching with the remote in hand so I don't have to answer "what did he really say?" when Ralphie says "oh fudge!")

After Friday's tragedy just being able to enjoy a Christmas movie with our children is a blessing I hold dear.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fake VS Real

This past weekend we got our second tree.  Our real tree!  Yes I know that they are a pain to take care of.  And yes I know they are a fire hazard but they make my house smell wonderful.  Irony of ironies, we buy our "real" tree every year from our local volunteer fire department.

I am not sure about other children but my kiddos love each and every single ornament that they make.  And they do seem to make a ton!!!  I do not have the heart to toss any of these handmade beauties out, which is why we have two trees!

One, the fake tree,  is filled with tiny white lights, glass bulb ornaments and gold ribbon.  It is a tree that I think Southern Living might like...maybe.

The other, the "real" tree, is lit by colorful C7 bulbs.  Side note, the fact that Hubby had such a love for the C7 bulbs was a HUGE sign to me that we were going to be married and have wonderful family.  Don't you just love it went you know something was meant to be!?!

The "real" tree is also filled with colorful ornaments that have so much meaning.  Most are either kiddo made or a Star Wars character but a few are part of an inside joke between me and Hubby.  Long story but the lawn gnome really makes my Hubby laugh!

So I guess it should come as no surprise....I love our "real" tree more than the "fake".  Colorful and meaningful gets me everytime!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Was A Bad Blogger

Hubby took the day off on Tuesday and we ran all over Loudoun to get things done but we were so busy I forget to take pics.  Please forgive me!  I did get one pretty pic; a silver, blue and white table display at the Leesburg Antiques Emporium.

While you are out and about this Christmas season I hope you have a moment to stop and enjoy something pretty!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Doing Good With Instagram

Like many parents, we try very hard to instill in our children that Christmas is not just about getting toys.  At times it feels like an uphill battle but I keep trying!  So I cannot tell you how happy I was tonight to read A. Liz Adventures' blog post today.  Being the great sister that she is, she told everyone about the great work her sister's company is doing this Christmas season.

Simply put - you (and in my case, your daughter) run around your house a take pictures that "match" a child's wish using your Instagram account.  (Thank goodness I just got one! @lobsterpeach)   Then in the comment section you use hashtag Instaclaus and the gift. Once there are five hashtagged pictures that fit the theme of the child's wish the company will fill the child's wish.  So fun and so super easy!

A five year old loves "Toy Story".  #instaclaus #pixar

There is a six year old girl who would love a Disney Princess Make-up set.  #instaclaus #makeup

What an awesome idea that truly makes it easy to give this year!!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yeah Us!

I know this is not going to mean anything to most people but we found a new restaurant that we can add to our limited list.  With all of our food allergies finding places to eat is difficult so this is a major accomplishment. Plus the fact that 2 out of 3 kiddos really liked their dinner. It would be an understatement to say that I am over the moon!

After a ton of running around at the Dulles Town Center, we stopped in PF Chang's for dinner.  I had taken B there for her birthday lunch and heard from other moms that it was very allergy friendly.  And PF Chang's really was!  You simply tell the manager what food allergies each guest has and they will print out a personalized menu.

I will admit that this extended our stay since the printing of the menus and cooking time took longer than normal.  But I felt like PF Chang's went above and beyond!!!!  Normal restaurants that have peanuts on their menu don't want to serve a customer with a nut allergy. They really did a stand up job!  And we were able to past the time with self-taught chop stick lessons which the kiddos thought were hysterical!

Not a single hive!  But L claims that he will just order a hamburger next time....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Date-night With B

Last Monday and Tuesday B was home with a fever and cough. She bounced back but then on Thursday night M started to down that same hill. Poor boy had to miss "Fantastic Friday" and the PTO's Winter Wonderland at school. Thankfully B had recovered enough so I took her to Winter Wonderland. Is it wrong that after a week of being stuck in the house with sick kiddos that I not only put on "date-night make-up" but also curled my hair?

B had a wonderful time bidding on a couple of the Winter Wonderland silent auction items.  Then she really honed in on one and was not leaving until she felt that she was going to win.  So competitive...really have no idea where she gets it from!

While we were waiting on the silent auction B made a couple of gifts for friends and family.  I love that the "Children's Workshop" was handmade projects.  I would pay money any day for my children to make a craft but I don't think that I would have enjoyed B just buying "5 and dime" stuff.  What parent wants more junk I ask you!?!

Happy to report that B did in fact place a winning bid.  She and Hubby are still debating who should pay for said bid....

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On Right Now

As I type this my Hubby is enjoying his most favorite Christmas movie ever.  He just loves "Miracle On 34th Street"! (Hubby's note- I do love this movie but the colorized version of the original, and even worse the the 1990s remake, are both an affront to all that is good and right in the world.)

Miracle on 34th Street Poster

It might not be my most favorite Christmas movie but I love how Hubby really gets into the season. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Even Better The Second Time Around

After our neighborhood dinner we had some left-over spiral ham.  Hubby, M and L enjoyed some leftover ham on biscuits the day after the party.  But I still was left with the shoulder bone with meat on it so I decided to make one of Hubby's favorites: split-pea soup!

It is beyond easy,  I don't even follow a recipe.  One onion and two big hand fulls of baby carrots chopped and diced.  Heat olive oil in your Le Creuset then add diced onions and carrots.  Cook until tender.  Once the onion and carrots are tender, add 3 cups chicken broth and 3 cups water.

While your pot is coming to a boil, sort and rinse your bag of split peas.  Then add the split peas to the boiling pot.  Once your pot is back to a boil add your left-over ham and bones.  Let your pot simmer away for a couple of hours.  Stir frequently and add fresh water as needed. The beans will fall apart as they cook.

It was a great dinner for all but one.  After re-reading the Goya split pea bag we saw the fine print.  The peas might have contained wheat.  Still not sure why peas might have contained wheat but I was upset none the less.  This should have been a GF dinner:( (Hubby's comment: Not that B, who somehow hates anything called a soup, would have eaten it anyway. Her loss because it was outstanding!)
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