Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is having the most amazing Thanksgiving, eating way too much delicious food, and laughing with family and friends.

We weren't able to make any meals with our extended families this year, but you won't feel bad when I share why next week!  But we didn't want to miss out on turkey and all that goes with it this year, so we decided to tackle the meal on our own.

Not too shabby!

We actually had a blast and didn't find it nearly as overwhelming as I thought it would be.  Each family member was assigned a few dishes to help with and we just took our time and ate when everything was ready.

Here's our menu, who worked on what, and links to a couple of the recipes we used:

Turkey:  Dad, Mom, and Adele (she held the turkey heart and is pretty proud of that)
Mashed Potatoes:  Adele and Dad
Gravy:  Elise and Mom
Sweet Potato Casserole:  Elise and Dad
Green Bean Casserole:  Adele and Mom
Stuffing:  Elise and Mom
Crescent Rolls:  Nathan and Lucy
Raspberry Razzle:  Lucy and Mom
Pumpkin Pie:  Nathan and Mom
Homemade Whipped Cream:  Lucy and Mom

We had so much fun, in fact, that we are thinking that we should make a huge meal like this where we all work together (and have leftovers for days) more often!

I sure am thankful for this amazing family God has blessed me with.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

So very 6.

Yesterday Nate turned 6.  Is it just me or does 6 sound so much older than 5?  5 still seems like preschool age, but 6, there is just no mistaking aged.

Can you believe how he towers over Lucy now?!

Nate has had quite a year.  Kindergarten has been a big change for him and he has really handled it amazingly.  It's hard work for him, but we have been working hard with him and he is doing well.  Can I just say that we debated sending him to all-day kindergarten to have a bit extra time at school and decided not to and it was the BEST DECISION we could possibly have made.  That time from when he gets home to when the girls do has been so important.  Don't rush them off mamas!!

Anyway, we love this guy.  He is the best big brother ever and is just everything a boy of 6 should be.  Kinda crazy. Crashing everywhere.  Too loud.  So funny.  Still a cuddle bug.  Annoys his big sisters.  Obsesses over monster trucks and super heroes.  Even the thought of him makes me smile.

Happy birthday big guy.  I hate that I couldn't have been there that first day you were born, but Lord knows I am enjoying each one that we have had together since!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

Today is Nate's 6th birthday, so in honor of our little man and the amazing place he was born, I'm posting one of his favorite videos...ENJOY!!!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Raspberry Razzle.

Every family has those dishes that they simply can't celebrate Thanksgiving without.  For my family growing up it was called Raspberry Razzle.  And since today we are making our first ever Thanksgiving meal all on our own, I had to make sure that it was on the menu.

I'm not sure where my mom got the recipe from, but it is creamy and tart and sweet and just super yummy.  Plus, it is a dessert that we count as a fruity side, which is what holiday eating is supposed to look like.

The recipe is doubled from the original because we fill a jello mold (that's right).

  • 2 3 oz packages of raspberry gelatin
  • 20 oz of frozen raspberries, thawed (or at least you are suppose to thaw them, but I always forget to)
  • 2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cup water

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and combine with a whisk, dissolving the lumps of sour cream.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to prevent it from burning.  Pour into mold (or something else if you aren't cool enough to have a jello mold) and chill overnight.

Best served with a bit of homemade whipped cream, because, you know, everything sweet during the holidays is better with a little whipped cream.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Consider this little lovely the first of what is sure to be a good deal of recipe posts in the next few weeks.  'Tis the season to eat amazing food!

I'm not much of a pumpkin pie fan, so last year when I volunteered to bring dessert to a family meal, I decided to shake it up a bit.  I found this recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and figured they would be the perfect dessert for all the kiddos (and men) in the family.  And they totally were.

Tonight I am off to another family meal, so I whipped up some "pies" to bring with us...

I actually doubled the recipe to make about 30 pies (there is going to be a lot of family there tonight) BUT didn't need to double the filling recipe...there was plenty.

for the cookies
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1.5 cups pure pumpkin [or a 15oz. can]
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

for the cream cheese filling
  • 8 ounces cream cheese 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

for the cookies
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Lightly grease your baking sheets.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, & pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl. Beat butter & sugar with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add eggs, pumpkin, & vanilla extract & beat well. Stir in flour mixture until well combined.

Drop by heaping teaspoons on a baking sheet, and press down lightly with the back of the spoon creating a flat appearance. Bake for 10-13 minutes, until springy to the touch. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

for the filling
Beat the cream cheese, butter, & vanilla extract together until fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioners sugar until creamy.

Spread a heaping teaspoon of filling onto flat side of one cookie; top with flat side of another cookie to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining cookies & filling. Store in refrigerator.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

Been thinking a lot about wanting to get back to Africa...this video makes my heart so happy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Shoes.

So I got some new shoes...

That's right, I'm taking ballet.  I've wanted to do it for a long time and have been trying to find someone to do it with me, but I've never found anyone to join me, so finally I just signed up on my own.

And I love it.

It is challenging, but beautiful...well, my teacher looks beautiful when she does it...maybe someday I will too.  It's the change of pace that I needed and the perfect little something that makes me feel good.  And I can't wait to sign up for more classes this spring.

Oh, and to answer your questions...NO, there is no recital and NO, I do not wear a tutu.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Finally 34.

When my dad was 11 years old, his mother died tragically in a car accident.

She was 33 years old.  Oh yeah, and she had 5 kids.  33.  5 kids.  Sound familiar?

Look, I wouldn't ever say that I'm superstitious, but when I realized this similarity earlier this year, it shook me a little. Then one day I mentioned it to my mom and found out that I wasn't the only one who had realized this and was anxious for me to turn 34.

And I have to be honest, the last few weeks I have been REALLY careful behind the wheel.  Crazy? Maybe, but who wants to be a part of a crazy tragic coincidence?

My grandma has always been a bit of a mystery to me, in part because I can see what a tender spot she is for my dad.  I'll never forget being maybe 10 or 11 and going with my dad to her grave marker and having him introduce me to her.  He was all teary.  I don't ever remember seeing him teary like that before that day...

And then there was my great grandmother, her mother, a sweet old lady that we all loved.  She used to keep a picture of my grandma on top of her tv.  It was the only picture I had ever seen of my grandmother until this summer when my dad got a hold of some more.  That image is really all we had of her and when my great grandmother died, it was the only thing my dad asked for.

And it is one of the only things that I have asked my mom for, because if it was that important to my dad, than it is that important to me.

Wasn't she beautiful?

And as glad as I am to have been able to celebrate my 34th birthday with my 5 kiddos, there is a part of me that relished being thought of with her this last year.  It made me feel a little more of a connection with her, this mystery of a woman, and I'm truly thankful for that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake

Does anyone remember when Kraft would send out their Food & Family catalog for free?  I loved it.  The recipes were super easy and most of the time really good.  One of my favorites was their Best Ever Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake.  It's yummy and pretty and easy and was the perfect cake for Anthony to make for my birthday yesterday.

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz. each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
  • 1 pkg. (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix
  • 1 pkg. (3.9 oz.) chocolate instant pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tub (8 oz.) whipped topping (Do not thaw.)
  • 2 tbsp. sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350°F.

Chop 2 oz. chocolate. Beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, eggs, sour cream, oil and water in large bowl with mixer until blended. Stir in chopped chocolate. Pour into 2 (9-inch) round pans sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake 30 to 35 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 min. Loosen cakes from sides of pans. Invert onto wire racks; gently remove pans. Cool cakes completely. 

Microwave whipped topping and remaining chocolate in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 min. or until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 1 min. Let stand 15 min. to thicken.

Stack cake layers on plate, filling and frosting with whipped topping mixture. Sprinkle with nuts.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

Today's my birthday, so what better gift to give myself than a Jimmy Fallon clip!  Enjoy!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

So sad it's sweet.

Matthias has begun moving around quite a bit, which of course means that we are spending quite a bit of time learning what we are and aren't allowed to touch.  This morning there was a lot of "no touching," which didn't go over great with the little man...

Which in turn stressed out the dog who desperately wanted to comfort his buddy...

It was the most pitiful and cutest morning ever.  

I love being a mom.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Surviving the Weekend as a Single Mom

Anthony's been out of town for the weekend...a football trip with his brothers and dad.

Look, I'm not going to lie to you, I depend on this man A LOT.  He does so much around this house and I am seriously spoiled.  So having him gone for an entire weekend forces me to take a deep breath, put on my big girl pants, and do it all on my own.  And I learned a few things about myself and how I am best able to handle a weekend without my better half...

  • Paper plates are my friend.  We are paper snobs in our house.  We use cloth napkins, almost never use paper towels, and only bring paper plates out for parties.  But dishes can consume a lot of my time and I decided to give myself a break and managed to only fill our dishwasher once for the whole weekend.  (And yes, that is impressive in our house!)
  • Huck is a dog.  He's not a kid and while I still need to take care of him, it is okay for me to take a break and stick him in his kennel for a bit.  He's still quite high maintenance and sometimes I just need to not have to think about him.  Luckily, this weekend was BEAUTIFUL, so he was perfectly happy hanging out in our porch for a good portion of the weekend.
  • Have a project to work on.  Anthony and I are working on getting our basement a bit more older kid friendly, so I took it upon myself to start moving a few things around and sorting through all the toys.  Of course, I didn't finish what I started, but it made the day fly by.
  • Splurge a little when the kids go to bed.  A cup of tea and a giant ginger cookie, while watching girly tv in a quiet house, is just good for the soul.
  • Spend one day entirely at home.  I'm not someone who likes to go-go-go all the time, so a day when we don't have anywhere to go is perfect.  We even went out Friday night and ran errands, just so that we wouldn't have a thing to do on Saturday.  The kids wore their jammies all day (except outside), we watched a movie, I worked on my project and the kids was perfect.
  • Tell the kids about my limitations.  I know what is going to send me over the edge, so I tried to stay ahead of things and let them know when I thought we needed to head in a different direction.  For instance, all the kids have had coughs, so instead of losing my cool when each took their turn coming downstairs during the night, complaining of their coughs, I sat them all down, explained that I had given them all the medicine I could, gave them some tips on how to sleep on two pillows and lay on their sides to keep from things draining down their throat and told them there was nothing else I could do for them so they just needed to try and rest in their beds if they couldn't sleep.  No one came down and everyone slept pretty good...including me.
  • Go to bed on time!  I always go to bed so late when Anthony is gone because I hate crawling into bed without him.  But this time I worked hard at getting to bed when we normally would and learned that throwing a heating pad in the bed before I crawled in took the chill away from the sheets.
So all in all it was a really good weekend...BUT, I still have one ear to the garage door waiting for my sweet man to get home tonight.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

I should wait for Mother's Day to post this, but that is entirely to far away...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cheesy Quiche.

I love quiche.

So when I took on hosting Christmas brunch in 2007, I needed a good quiche to put on the table and found this recipe from a lady at my mom's church.  It's AMAZING.  It's eggy and cheesy and so very yummy and it always has a place with us on Christmas morning.  Or with a nice bit of salad on a lovely cool evening like tonight.  Or as leftovers.  Heck, I made two quiches tonight just to make sure we would have leftovers for tomorrow!

The original recipe wasn't very specific, so I'm sharing it with you from the way I make it.

  • 1 ream of Ritz crackers
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 5 - 6 large eggs
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • basil
  • feta cheese
  • pine nuts

Melt the butter in a 9" pie pan.  Crush the ream of crackers while they are still in the package.  (You can just smash them with your hands, but be careful not to bust through the pack.)  Add to the butter, mix and press throughout the pie pan. This is your crust.

Add the mozzarella cheese on top of the crust.  Then in a blender, mix the cottage cheese and eggs.  (The original recipe said 4 -5 eggs, but 4 really isn't enough.  I use 6.)  Pour the mixture over the cheese.  Layer with the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with basil, feta cheese and pine nuts...however much you want.

Bake at 350 degrees for at least 40 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly.