Tuesday, November 26, 2013

my days...

My fail proof pizza dough is rising...sugar cookie dough is thawing...and soup is simmering, so I thought I would chat with y'all about what's been going on these days. Today is wicked miserable weather. 39 with rain and wind. Typically, I would hibernate on such a day, but I had no choice but to go out in it due to a doctor's appt for Luc. Still being chilled to the bone, I am making pizza bianca & minestrone soup for dinner. The pizza bianca recipe is courtesy of Miss Edie {from Life in Grace}, check it out. dee-lish.

This past Saturday I snuck away for a much needed mommy-recharge day.
Hubby indulged me with getting a 90 minute massage {which once you have, 60 min just won't do...}and then I snagged the last table at my very favorite french market in town to enjoy a cappuccino, lunch and read a magazine. heavenly.  It could just be one of the quaintest little places. :) On my way home, I stopped by the library to pick up some good, classic children's books I put on hold for Reed. I feel like you really have to work hard to keep the childhood innocence and purity in this day and age. sad, but I am trying my darn'dest!

So, not exactly sure how I had my act together enough to be mostly done before Thanksgiving this year, but I actually have my Christmas cards ordered and almost all gifts figured out and purchased. It certainly helps that we have really downscaled the boys' gifts.  A Want, a Need and a Read. And they ask Santa for a gift as well {if they've been nice}. They also get gifts from grandparents & their cousins so it's not like they are so deprived and it's still alot. A couple years ago we started to go down that overindulgent path and thankfully this sweet boy clued us in it was just all too much. This is probably hardest for me because I am just an overly indulgent person in every sense of the word. But, I try to remind myself of this quote, "want your children to turn out good? spend half as much money on them and twice as much time with them". 

I wanted to have all the shopping done come December 1st so we could concentrate on the activities we have planned for our first annual Advent calendar. Each day we will do a different Christmas-inspired activity. Some small and some a little more involved {and pre-planning on my part}. Reed is no doubt counting down to Christmas so he can get the few gifts he has asked for {what child isn't, especially at four years old} but I want him to know that Christmas is so much more than that, and that exchanging gifts is just a small part of it. Besides him learning about the birth of our savior in his Christian school, I also picked up some good classic golden books about the baby Jesus and the Christmas story so he can start to better understand what this time of year and celebration is all about. I also want to emphasize it's also about giving to others and carving out extra time to spend with those that we care about.

I am so thrilled Reed is off school this whole week. It makes me so happy to see that sweet face of his all.day.long. We did our grocery shopping Monday morning to beat the Thanksgiving rush {we definitely weren't the only ones with that idea} and when we got home he wanted to help put the groceries away. Ummm, okay! I am so thankful for this loving, kind-hearted boy of ours. I just beyond adore him!

I am soooo darn cold. I know much of the country is experiencing a colder than normal spell, but I moved south to get away from the cold...so to warm our hearts & souls, Reed & I have been drinking lots of Trader Joe's hot cider and snuggling under the down throw on the sofa. I try to get Luc to snuggle too, but he is too excited to be walking now to care about being chilly. We'll see how much I love theses "charming" old windows after this winter. They are such a leaky sieve...

Last week I made the mistake of buying these cookies at Trader Joes. Have you tried them? Ridiculous is what they are. I barely resisted them yesterday, and frankly I am sad that they didn't go home with me.  But maybe once the scale starts going back in the right direction I won't be so sad. I suppose this time of year isn't the best to try to get back on track...

 I did however pick up a couple bottles of this for the holiday season {just in case they run out}. It's delicious champagne for a reasonable price. Jeff surprised me with a very romantic date night a few weeks ago and we tried it for the first time. Yum, yum, yum.  Who am I kidding, there is a good chance we will drink both bottles on a Thanksgiving. :)

We are having a cozy Thanksgiving for 4 again this year, and I am totally okay with it. We did get a couple gracious invites, but we decided to just have dinner at home and then go over to a neighborhood friends' for dessert. Luc is walking now and chasing him all day at someone else's house is not my idea of enjoyable way to spend a holiday.  But, a few hours, I can do.

I am not going overboard having 15 different dishes...just doing a stuffed turkey breast
with spinach, bacon & herbs, mashed potatoes, maple glazed carrots & parsnips, and green beans with shallots. Making peeeecan bars {my southern pronunciation} dipped in chocolate to share at our dessert hosts {and turkey iced sugar cookies for Reed}. I thought I would also bring them some yummy muffins to enjoy the next morning. After a day of cooking, it's nice to treat the host to something homemade {by someone else}.

Reed {& I} made our place cards for our family Thanksgiving table today. They turned out cute, and wait until his daddy sees his, it has four eyes, ha ha {we were laughing so hard...}

Okay, best get back to my food preparation.  Wishing you a warm & comforting Thanksgiving. May you have much to be thankful for this year.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

make your own {frozen} waffle sticks

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I am so not a morning person. Getting myself and two kids ready and fed,  Reed’s snack for school made and make it to school in a unhurried, pleasant manor is about all I can manage in the wee hours of the morning. Being able to turn on the oven to warm up frozen waffles some days is what works.

So, recently I have been making waffle stick batches that I then freeze and have the convenience of just pulling some out for the boys’ breakfast on school mornings. You can certainly just make whole waffles but for kids, waffle sticks are just so much more fun! The waffle iron I picked up at Target just happens to make waffle sticks, but I used to just cut up a whole waffle into “sticks”.

I use a gluten-free and vegan version from Gwyneth’s “It’s All Good” cookbook and have been adding pumpkin pie spice lately for extra yummy seasonal flavor, but certainly use your favorite recipe and just make a big batch and freeze. I find warming them at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes works great. We have been enjoying ours these days with some yummy pumpkin butter and a fruit of choice.

I hope you'll give this {make your own} idea a try. You know what ingredients you are giving your family, they taste so much better than any store bought version and yet are still quick and convenient on busy mornings. :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

handmade halloween

Hope y’all had a fun halloween and enjoyed the extra hour today!
I thought I would share a quick recap of our halloween with you. This year was definitely a handmade halloween. We started off the week making homemade ghost marshmallows.

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Reed and I made these cute, little pumpkin bags to fill with non-edible treats for his friends at school.  I picked up the muslin bags at Michaels, but created the rest with only things we had at home. Reed did the circle stamp on each bag {from his arts & crafts basket} and then I drew on the jack-o-lantern face & glued a small piece of green ribbon as the stem. He hand selected what each friend would receive. {We did halloween character bubbles, a “googly-eye” sticker and a pumpkin eraser since they are really focusing on writing in school this year}. I created the label using the trusty, ole picmonkey. Love that program!

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Halloween 026This year I created a “BOO” bag for Reed to trade in his trick or treat candy. The last two years, we just swaped out a few “safe” pieces of candy that he could eat due to his food allergies. But this year, I have really come down on what types of food goes into our bodies. I wanted to get rid of that type of candy altogether and give him a big incentive to be able to go out and have fun trick or treating with friends, but not to eat any of it and as his reward, get a really fun bag of treats {mostly non-edible}.
I showed it to him before we left, explained how it worked and it was a HUGE success. He had a blast trick or treating and when Jeff told him he had enough candy to “cash in”, he was ready to come home and see what surprises he had. I plan to adapt this idea as he gets older, but for now, it works great. I did include a few healthier food treats along with some stickers, a couple books, new character undies, and a character plane he has been working towards on his chore chart.  I will use this same principle with Luc, even without food allergies. It just suits our family values regarding the type of food we want to eat and that treats don’t have to be junk food.

Halloween 032 {fruit twists, Trader Joe’s lollipop and gummy fish all made spooky for the BOO bag}

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{while our marshmallows were cooling, Reed & I made these luminaries}

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This year, Reed wanted to be a dalmation, so this is what I came up with. I’ve made his costumes twice now and I so do enjoy making them.  I did get some black costume paint for his nose, but he wasn’t interested in that at all! But, he still got alot of rave reviews on his costume, though. Luc wore Reed’s Tigger costume from when he was a year old, which is just fine to utilize a hand me down when they are that age and don’t even care what they dress up as. :) 

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Reed picked out the faces for his & Luc’s pumpkin and “helped” Jeff carve them. We use flameless candles on a timer in the pumpkins so there are no worries and they can glow into the night.

This year, halloween seemed especially fun. :)