Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just Skating Along

For the first time in forever we did not do any traveling over the Christmas break. It was a little bittersweet since I missed seeing all of my family above the Mason Dixon but it was nice not to feel like we were living out of our car. (What can I say, I have been filled with mixed emotions since the first week in November.)

Since we had some "extra" free time this year Hubby and I asked the kiddos what they wanted to do. And skating was at the top of their list so off to the rink we went!

B had the time of her life! She really loves rollers skating. But Hubby and I had to laugh when her competitive side came out and she tried to race both of us. Not sure if this makes us mean parents but we let her know that she is not faster than us....for now!

The boys on the other hand did not have as easy of a time. I am not sure why but poor M has an easier time skating on ice. I do have to give him credit, he never stopped trying!

L didn't fair any better! Even with rented assistant it was not any easier. All I can say is that I am in need of a trip to the spa for a back massage. Children really are back-breakers! And I would not have it any other way!!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Wrap-Up

Did you have a wonderful Christmas? We certainly did around these parts! My parents came down for a pre-Christmas visit. It was great having them around to help out with all of the last minute hustle and bustle. After they left we attended the Christmas Eve children's Mass and followed it up with a nice quiet family dinner. All that was left to do was to wait and see if Santa thought the kiddos had been good this past year....

By the looks of things, I think it is safe to say that Santa was impressed with the kiddos this year! I hope that Santa was good to you and your families too!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Before & After

Not sure about your home but ours starts out looking neat and orderly but then Christmas morning happens. Total anarchy if you ask me!

Neatly wrapped gifts before....

One hot mess after!!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending L's Christmas program at his preschool. It might be just me but I have never seen anything as precious as a preschool musical performance. It must be the age - all that energy and excitement!

I mean really look at that face! My little boy walked into church ready to sing his heart out. Not on key mind you, just with a lot of heart.

All of the children really did a wonderful job this year. I think it might be because their teachers are the most patient women I have ever meet! 

When all of the songs were sung L walked off the risers with the biggest smile ever. I, on the other hand, was just trying my best to keep it together. This is the last preschool Christmas program that one of my children will ever be in and it was bittersweet. I am sure that sounds like a silly "mom" problem but there is something so sweet and pure about these programs that I will truly miss.

Maybe Hubby will let me adopt? (Hubby's note- Yes, you can adopt a pet lizard just like L asked for for Christmas. And yes I know L needs a haircut, I am taking the boys this weekend.)

After the show was over I asked L if he would like to go on a lunch date with me. He said he would love it as long as he could order a chocolate milk. I tried to take a couple of pictures when we sat down to lunch but L was having nothing to do with that... the show was clearly over

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Do you need a last minute gift for a friend? How about a stocking stuffer for your sister or sister-in-law? Or maybe you just need a good book to read and relax with on December 26th? Friends have I got the book for you! Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is a perfectly quick, clever and fun read. Just the kind of book that will be great to read once all the holiday rush is over.

Amazon says: Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle -- and people in general -- has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence -- creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

This book is a must read for anyone that likes an "off-beat" story. Think The Royal Tenenbaums or I Heart Huckabees, creative geniuses trying to make their way among the rest of us. Trust me - it really is a great read!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Ok so is it just me or is this Christmas a little bit crazy!?! Is it because Thanksgiving was so late? Or because I simply am not ready? Whatever the reason, I am starting to freak out! So much so that I have started stalking the UPS trucks. Maybe I should feel some shame but it is getting down to the wire.

I am making progress but if you have totally finished with all of your Christmas shopping please do not leave a comment. Hugs and Kisses!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Singing At The National Tree

I am trying not to brag but....my daughter sang in front of the National Christmas Tree!!! I know this makes me a tacky mom but really how could I not share this!?!

B and her school chorus group took a bus down to DC and I followed with the boys in tow. After parking the boys and I made our way to the tree. While I am not a fan of LED lights it was an impressive tree. Plus all of the trains around the tree impressed the boys!

I was able to sneak into the performers' tent and take a couple of pictures of B. And totally embarrass her of course! I might have also enjoyed the tent since it as heated and it was a very cold night. Like really cold, below freezing!

Everyone might have been cold but what an honor to see your child sing in front of the National Christmas Tree! 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Gingerbread Men: Girls vs Boys

We had a couple pf friends over to play this week and I thought all of the kiddos might like to decorate some ginger bread cookies. I made the dough ahead of time and rolled it out. All I needed was for my little helpers to get off the bus and help me finish making the cookies.

Everyone had a great time picking out what cookie cutters they wanted to use. Some stars, bells and snowflakes were made. But for the most part the boys just wanted to make gingerbread men and from there on in my sweet project to an unplanned turn....

Edible dragees became "helmets". Red "eyed" gingerbread men were now zombies. And all dough scraps quickly became bows and arrows. While this should have come as no surprise to me since I have three younger brothers, but really!?!

Thank goodness B kept her cookies all sweet and girly!!! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Old Traditions

Slowly but surely we are getting ready for Christmas! The lights are up outside the house. The greens are hung on the staircase and mantle. And my "formal" fake tree is all set. In fact my little tree got a new addition this year.

Hubby and L were kind enough to take the time to move L's train up to my tree. After carefully moving the tree just so they were able to fit the tracks around the tree in a simple yet sweet circle. I honestly can not tell you how much joy it brings me to have a train racing around my tree. See my Pop used to put up this amazing village with a train circling around the bottom of his tree every Christmas. It was just such a magical thing to see every year as a child. It was even more magical when I was able to bring B to see her great-grandfather's Christmas village. The boys were able to see it too but I fear B is the only one that has the faintness memory of it.

I not sure if it is just me but I find that starting Christmas traditions with our kiddos that reflect our past to be so very heartwarming. Plus sparkly lights make me smile!

You can also find me at From My Front Porch and No Minimalist Here

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Better Than Swiss Miss

Don't you just love it when you find a great recipe on Pinterest!?! I am so please with the recipe that I found last week for semi-homemade hot chocolate mix from Jill's blog One Good Thing. Since we have been buying Swiss Miss in bulk I knew that my kiddos would love this recipe and boy with I right. L has declared that this is best!

Semi-Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

4 cups powdered milk
21.8 oz box Nestle Nesquik
16 oz instant coffee creamer
1 cup powdered sugar (Jill suggested that you could adjust this to taste. The kiddos and I thought this amount was perfect).
1/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa*

Mix all of this together in a big bowl. Pour into a storage jar or canister.** To make a mug of cocoa, add 3-5 heaping tablespoons of mix per mug. Top with hot water or milk, then stir.
*Jill's recipe did not call for cocoa, but the kiddos and I like dark chocolate so I decided to add some cocoa. Next time I make this recipe I plan to add a full cup of cocoa. I will let you know how that goes!

**I had no desire to clean an extra bowl so I mixed all of the ingredients in the jar that I planned to use. Which, by the way, was a gallon storage container.

This yummy recipe makes a ton which is perfect for us since we are enjoying our second snow day in a row! Man it is going to be so hard to wake up to reality tomorrow....

Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow Day!

I think that I have mentioned this before so forgive me for repeating myself, but I love snow days! In fact I think that I love them more as a mom than I did as a kid. And today's snow day was even better since it started last night. It was so much fun to tell the kids that I had gotten a call from the school and that they did not have to set their alarm clocks. Plus I really enjoyed their cute little happy dance!

We have enjoyed a great day. There was no rush to get out of our pjs. We got our shopping list ready and got things done, which is major in the crazy month of December. Plus there was still plenty of time left with tons of time to play outside. Snow days truly make me grateful to be raising our children in a neighborhood full of wee ones! 

The best part is that it looks like we might get another snow day tomorrow. Dare to dream, right!?!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sweet Southern Christmas Read

By now you must know that I just adore Mary Kay Andrews and her wonderful cast of Southern belles. So how could I not read her new Christmas novella!?! To be honest with all of you I have not been able to get into the spirit this year. 2013 has not been a normal year for us so I was more than happy to let MK work her magic and get me in the holiday spirit!

According to Goodreads

From the New York Times bestselling author of Summer Rental comes a novella that celebrates love, the holidays, and antiques. Christmas is coming, but Savannah antique dealer Weezie Foley is doubly distracted both by her upcoming wedding to her longtime love, chef Daniel Stipanek and also by the fact that her best friend and maid-of-honor BeBe Loudermilk is due to give birth any day and is still adamantly refusing to marry her live-in-love Harry. Listeners have come to love these characters in Mary Kay Andrews' three previous Savannah novels: Savannah Blues, Savannah Breeze, and Blue Christmas. Christmas Bliss offers Andrews' legions of fans the best of many things: familiar characters, a new novella for Christmas, and a celebration of Mary Key Andrews' own favorite pastime-antiquing. Blue Christmas was a fan favorite, and now Christmas Bliss is sure to fly off store shelves and into the hands of Andrews fans in bestselling numbers.


Personally I thought this was a cute and quick read to get one into the Christmas spirit. I have loved reading all about Weezie and BeBe and seeing where their lives have taken them but I understand that if you have never read any of MK's previous novels about this duet you may be at a bit of a loss. So if you are like me and you have read all of MK's Weezie and Bebe's books then please pick up a copy of "Christmas Bliss". If not...why have you not read these witty Southern chick-lit books before!!?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chocolate Mint Cookies

I have been in the mood to bake some treat for the kiddos' teachers but I wanted to try something new. So of course I turned to Pinterest for a little inspiration. On the main page there were a couple of mint brownies trending that looked super yummy but when I went to their original source the recipes were very involved.

You all know that I love to bake but I was not not up for a challenging recipe. I need something that I could whip up while making dinner and overseeing homework. Is it just me or do you not remember having homework as hard as your child does now? Anyway...I decided to make some cookies with a mint twist. Since most of the brownie recipes were inspired by Andes mints I thought why not just add them to cookies!

Chocolate Mint Cookies

3 sticks unsalted butter, soften
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup cocoa powder
3 cups unbleached flour or gluten-free flour (such as Cup 4 Cup)
2 packages (4.67 ounces) Andes Creme De Menthe Thins, roughly chopped
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugars. Then add one egg at a time and mix until light and fluffy. Gently mix in the vanilla, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. Once combined well stir in the flour. Then fold in the chopped mints and chocolate chips.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop cookie dough and place on to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes - you might need more or less time depending on your oven. Either way the center of your cookies should look slightly underdone. This way you will have a perfect cookie once they cool.


(Hubby's note- This new recipe is strongly endorsed by both myself and M. We may or may not have gone to town on the raw dough but the baked version is just as good. Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!)

You can also find me at From My Front Porch and No Minimalist Here

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

ORC - Week 10

In the beginning of October I decided to take part in Linda's (Calling It Home) One Room Challenge Link-Up. Simply put, you had six weeks to make over a room in your house and each week you would give an update. The idea sounded great to me! I had known that I wanted to make-over our family room since May but had yet to get around to it. Thanks to Linda I was going to have my family all done by the second week in November...or so I thought!

Unfortunately L's hospital stay put a stop to all of my plans. Getting L better was all that matter and I just took a break from my make-over. Slowly after L was feeling better I started to put the finishing touches on our family room and I am now happy to report that it is complete!

The two pictures above my "before" pictures. 

The room color and furniture all stayed the same so I guess you could call this more of a refresher rather than a total make-over. Either way, I am pleased with the results. Before this room had more of a moss green feel that did not seem to flow well with the rest of the house.

While the room is still filled with different colors the feel of the room is now blue, which works well with our open floor plan. (By the way, I love the idea of an open floor plan but living in one is a different story!)

After ten weeks, six curtain panels, four pillows, one painted mirror and some new accessories I am calling it a day! Now all I have to do is get ready for Christmas....

Follow my progress - 

Week Five

You can also find me at From My Front Porch and No Minimalist Here

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Best Leftovers Ever!

Sure you think that I am going tell you how to turn your left-over turkey into some amazing casserole. But let's be real...we have all been there and done that. Further more if you ask me the best thing to do with your Thanksgiving left-overs is turn them into a sandwich that New Englanders call the "Gobbler". Simply place the left-over turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce between two slices of bread dressed in gravy. Old school yet yummy every time!

No what I really want to tell you about today is how to make the best grilled cheese ever! While I know not everyone makes homemade pimento it has become a staple appetizer for my family on Thanksgiving day. I have also learned that pimento makes for an incredible grilled cheese sandwich. The only catch is that if you plan to reuse it for grilled cheese you have to omit the mayo. I know that idea if offensive to some but if you are going to heat it in a sandwich mayo just doesn't work. 

Pimento Cheese

8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
8 ounces of extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
jarred sliced pimentos, drained and roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper (we prefer a little more heat so I add 1/2 teaspoon)
2 to 3 dashes of hot sauce

Simply mix all of the ingredients in a bowl with a hand held beater until a creamy spread is formed, then refrigerate over night so all of the flavors can blend together.

Allow pimento cheese to come to room temperature before serving with crackers and celery sticks.

*Or spread pimento cheese on buttered whole wheat bread. Then simple grill on low heat until the cheese has melted. Trust me, you are going to love it!!!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

I hope that all you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Our Thanksgiving was different since we could not travel home to my family but it was still wonderful. I tried my best to cook a meal that my Gram would have been proud of and while I did try my best it was clear that I have a ton to learn! Honestly it is very hard to clean a house and keep it clean with children then prepare a multiple course meal then serve it all at the right temperature. I have a lot to learn. But I am more than willing!

Thank goodness Hubby and my brother where able to talk me off of any "this is a total disaster" cliffs! (Hubby's note- Dinner was tremendous!) They helped me sit back and enjoy the moment. Family and food without any need to rush. I have more than I should and despite not being in New Jersey with our family I did not feel less blessed for a moment. 

Plus we keep it real all day long! We played game upon game and we kept score. What can I say, we are a competitive group. And I am sure that it would not surprise you that M and I won in the last game of the night. Do your families play any games on Thanksgiving?

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