Tuesday, December 31, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

Was going to post year end videos of the kids for today, but with both my boys sporting 103 degree temps, we'll try again next week.

Anyway, so this video is how I found out about SoulPancake's My Last Days.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Brunch.

For the last seven years I have been making Christmas brunch for anyone who shows up.  The menu hasn't changed and doesn't need to...it's that good.  But it isn't exactly a small undertaking and with 25 people eating this year, I made 3 of everything...along with 120 sausages!

I started the process first thing on Christmas Eve morning with the holiday biscotti (that I make for people to take home), the quiches and coffee cakes.  The biscotti takes a while so I wanted to get that done before we left for church in the afternoon.


I have 3 springform pans, so I needed to get the coffee cakes done in order to be able to use the pans for the bakes later.


I was, of course, missing a few things, so while I was waiting for Anthony to get back from the store, I went ahead and got the quiches done, which I could just refrigerate until I was ready to bake them the next morning.


Finally the brunch bakes were the last thing that I prepared the day before, baking them to all their delicious glory Christmas morning.


Then on Christmas morning, we opened presents and stockings and found the pickle ornament before it was off to bake the quiches and bakes, followed by browning the 120 sausages (thank you, Anthony!). ALL of which are gone.

photo by my cousin, Rebekah
Rounding out the brunch was our pear mimosas and a little fruit and cream (sadly no picture of them) and I believe the brunch was a hit yet again!

photo by Rebekah
My constant companion during the whole process?  Huckleberry.  You know, just in case I dropped something...anything...on the ground.


Stayed tuned and I'll begin posting some of the recipes over the next week or so!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Hope your day was as sweet as ours...


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Yep.

Pretty sure it is Christmas this week.

Pretty sure this is the perfect way to welcome it.  Good morning indeed.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Speed Demon.

So, Matthias has been a little slow in his gross motor skills.  He has still never crawled, in the traditional way, has just started sitting himself up and pulling up on things in the last month, and is finally cruising (EVERYWHERE).  I do genuinely think he is getting close to walking, if he would just be willing to let go of our hands, but at the same time I think there is a pretty good chance that he will break Lucy's record of not walking before 16 months.

For now, his most favorite thing to do is speed around the house in his little car walker.  And let me tell you, he can get going pretty quick and you are definitely in danger of losing a toe.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday Biscotti.

We get a lot of requests for our Giant Ginger Cookies...and the hype is deserved. They are just that good.  But as Christmas rolls near, the requests change to another amazing treat.  Holiday Biscotti. And trust me, they are equally deserving of the hype.

photo by my lovely baking buddy, Alysia

I can't remember why I went searching for a biscotti recipe, but I nailed it when I found this one by Giada De Laurentiis. There are just few things better than a gorgeous little biscotti with a cup of tea or milk to dip it into.

As usual, I'm including the recipe with the changes I usually make.  Making biscotti is a long (though not hard) process, so keep that in mind.  Oh, and I recommend doubling this recipe...trust me on this one.

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries [I like to chop these a bit too.]
  • 12 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped [I just use a vanilla candy coating like Almond Bark.]

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. [I have actually gotten in the habit of spreading the chocolate with a knife along the entire top of the biscotti instead...it ensures chocolate on every bite!] Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. [She then sprinkles them with sugar crystals, but they don't need it and I never do it.] Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

Has this shown up on your FaceBook feed yet?  Oh, it will...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A little Christmas preview.

So, I am done with my Christmas shopping and I had so much fun shopping for all of my kiddos.  There is just something about taking the time to think about who they are, what they love and finding the perfect little gifts for them, that just makes me so happy.

One of the gifts I am most excited about, I haven't even gotten in the mail yet.  But I am REALLY hoping that it turns out as cute as I am hoping.  See, I had gotten this coupon from Target (one of the millions of printout ones from a purchase) for a FREE 8x8 photo book from Shutterfly.  That's a $29.99 value people.  ANYWAY, so Matthias is truly obsessed with books, so I decided to make him one of his very own.

Check it out!


Fun, right?  Merry early Christmas!

Oh, and I get the irony that this completely goes against the type of books that I think you should stack your kiddo's shelves with.  But if you are going to take the time to make a personalized book for your kid, an exception can always be made.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Bahamas.

Well, we are home.  The older four are on day two back at school and Matthias is happily napping in his own crib.  So time to share about our trip!

I, of course, didn't take nearly as many pictures as I should of and most of the ones I took are crappy, BUT we did have an amazing time in the Bahamas, so who really cares.

The trip started a little sketchy.  We had an early morning flight to Atlanta and when we got there I noticed that Matthias felt warm and decided to take his temperature. 103.5!!!!!!!!  Highest fever any of our kids has EVER had.  So nuts.  He ended up keeping a fever for a couple of days, but that was all it was, so phew...not too bad.


The weather was also a bit sketchy for the first day and a half.  Cold and rainy and windy, but we went to the beach anyway...


Oh, and the Jayhawks (my father-in-law's excuse to take us to the Bahamas) looked terrible, so that sucked.  (No pictures of the games...they didn't deserve to be photographed.)

BUT...we were in the Bahamas, Saturday and Sunday were beautiful, our kids are amazing to hang out with and we had such a great time.  And while the slides and stuff at Atlantis were really cool, nothing beats our times at the beach.












Island hair (mine that is)...ugh.  Not that I like it off the island...I have hair issues.  ANYWAY...

With each trip that we take with our kids we realize more and more how much we just like hanging out with them.  They are such a blast.  And we have got to get to the beach again! So. Much. Fun.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

YouTube Tuesday.

I was just posting on our trip when I realized it is Tuesday.  So, that post will show up tomorrow while today you can enjoy this oldie but still so goodie...

Monday, December 2, 2013

Packing Light.

As this is posting, I am on my way back from the Bahamas with my family.  Yep.  That's why we missed the family Thanksgiving, because we've been chilling in the Bahamas.

As I'm writing this though, it is Wednesday night and I am finally putting my feet up after spending the day getting all of us ready to leave for the trip tomorrow.  Because let me tell you, it takes a bit of time and organization to prepare a family of seven for a trip out of the country, even if it is just for a few days.  But check this out...



THAT is it.  That's everything!  Well, minus the 5 backpacks that are our other carry-ons.  I am so proud of myself.  One check bag.  ONE.

The thing is that most people way over pack when they are traveling, but to over pack seven people means a whole lot of luggage.  And who wants a whole lot of luggage when they have five kids to keep track of!  Not me.

So, just in case you were wondering what all we packed and how, here are my thoughts on packing light:

Ziplocs are your best friend.  Not only do they keep your liquids from exploding all over everything, because something will leak, but they are perfect for keeping things organized.  I use them for everything AND pack some extras for the trip home.


Oh, and don't forget reusable bags!!  A great little tote that takes up no space packing-wise is perfect for taking to the beach or shopping for a few souvenirs.


Divide and conquer.  Snacks are a must.  But nothing is more annoying on a flight than being constantly asked by one of the kids for something to eat.  So I gave each kid a Ziploc (of course) with four snacks in it for our two flights and layover. They each know that that is all they get so if they eat it all of the first flight, well, no point in asking me for more. (I also already have bags all ready to go for the flight home.)


Be ready for coming and going.  Our departure is early in the morning and we are getting home just past bedtime, so I had outfits laid out not only for the morning we left, but also for school the morning after we get home.


Use the kids...to carry their own stuff.  I do not need to be in charge of books or UNO decks or little toys (which are in Ziplocs).  Each of our older four is quite capable of being in charge of their own things.  I did help them decide what went into the bag though, otherwise Adele would have brought 8 books and Nate would have filled it with his new Superman house.


So, what is it that we did pack?
  • Enough tshirts to have a fresh one each day
  • Two less shorts/skirts than days we are there
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • 2 swimsuits
  • One sundress or romper for each girl
  • One more pair of underwear than days we are gone
  • One long sleeve tshirt
  • One pair of flip-flops
  • Enough diapers/pull-ups (nighttimes still aren't making it for everyone) to not have to buy any extras.
  • 2 beach toys
  • Toiletries
  • Jammies

Oh, and our carryon suitcase has from the list above one suit, one outfit, and the jammies for each person, just in case the check bag doesn't show up.  At least we can still enjoy the first day!

So, that's it.  Keep it simple people.  No one ever says that they didn't pack enough, but overpacking? We're all pros at that.