My two charming children in the photo for our Christmas card, that you will be receiving sometime AFTER Christmas.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I am planning on making some of my very favorites, but am also looking for a really good cutout cookie recipe. I have tried different versions every year and still have been unsuccessful in finding that one recipe that makes me say WOW these are really good. I have tasted some good ones in the past, so I know they exist. If you have a recipe to share, please do so.
1/2 pound butter
1/2 pound margarine
4 cups flour
3 egg yolks beaten
1 c. sour cream
Cut margarine and butter into flour. Add yolks and sour cream. Blend with fork.
Sprinkle flour and sugar on board and roll out small portions.
Cut into squares.
Put filling in center of each square and pinch middle closed.
Bake at 350 for 25 - 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar once cool.
Mrs. Fields Mother Lode Brownies
3/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 oz. semisweet chocolate
3/4 c. unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 c. light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3 tbs. water
1/4 c. heavy cream, scalded
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 c. coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
1 & 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. milk chocolate chips
Grease and flour a 9 X 9 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 325.
Make the brownie layer: In a small bowl, combine flour and baking soda.
In a double boiler, melt the unsweetened chocolate and the semisweet with the butter. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. In a large bowl with a mixer, beat the brown sugar and eggs until lightened and pale in color. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla. Gradually add flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 -50 minutes, or until center is set but moist and a bit fudgy. Cool in the pan.
Prepare the caramel layer: In a small, heavy saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then let boil without stirring until the syrup turns a deep amber. While the syrup is boiling, brush down the sides of the pan from time to time with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystals from forming. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the hot cream (be careful, it will bubble rapidly). Continue stirring, over low heat if necessary, until all the caramel is dissolved into the cream. Stir in the butter until smooth. Set aside until cooled slightly but spreadable.
Assemble: Preheat the oven to 325. Spread the caramel over the cooled brownies. Sprinkle the toppings over the caramel layer and place the brownies in the oven for 5 minutes to set (do not let the chips melt completely)
Cool and enjoy.
1 c. butter or margarine, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 & 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
Food color if desired.
Preheat to 400.
Beat butter, sugar and egg in large bowl with mixer on medium speed. Stir in remaining ingredients.
Place dough in cookie press. Form desired shapes on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 5 to 8 minutes until set but not brown. Immediately remove from sheet to wire rack.
Decorate as desired.
16 oz. almond bark, broken into pieces.
candy canes left over from Christmas.
Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, waxed paper or parchment paper. Melt the almond bark.
Smash candy canes in whatever way possible in a heavy plastic bag. Stir the broken candy into the melted bark.
Spread evenly on cookie sheet. Let stand for about 1 hour until hardened. Break into pieces.
There are several more that I will post later.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Unfortunately with all the vacationing and chaos that comes with getting back to life as normal, I realized that it wasn't the 5th of December today at around 10:00. I also had Mr. Cable Guy coming between 12 and 5, and a sick Nicholas, so we stayed home and cleaned. Maybe next year, I can remember on the 5th??
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Hungry boy with sword
Katie and Belle
"Oh, Dear, let's not play with that!"
Katie and Jasmine
Katie and Cinderella
We also got to see two different fireworks displays that night. For my daughter, the timid one, the first display took the edge off, and the second one resulted in just this picture.
The best part was while Daddy rode Pirates of the Caribbean, Wendy came and hid behind our stroller while being chased by Mr. Smee. And then we got to meet Peter Pan too.
And we even got in some time at the park.
Monday, November 20, 2006
I stop at a red light as Nicholas says "Arm".
I respond, "What about your arm?" and turn around to look.
While strapped in his 5 point harness car seat, he has managed to pull his arm out of the sleeve of his shirt, and can't figure out how to get it back in. Mind you we are in a heated car, but it is only in the upper 30's outside.
He had also managed to place the sticker from the doctor's office carefully on the back of his head.
Of course, do I dare mention that he took both shoes and socks off on the way to the doctor....
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Anyway, how did I end up with this child. There have been days when I've wondered if the nurses brought me back the right child. After all, I was in that postpartum bleary world after having a baby. How did I know what he looked like? But his voice is remarkably like his sister's, and his face looks exactly like hers as well. So he must be mine.
Me, the psychologist, who specialized in child development. Who worked with parents and children with behavioral and emotional problems. I have been presented with the biggest challenge yet. Overcoming the whacker!
I make it sound funny, but it really isn't. He luckily so far doesn't hit other kids. His sister seems to be the only target thus far. And quite the target she is. Getting hit with a bucket, a plastic spoon, a plastic basket, and numerous hand slaps that I can't even count, just in the past 2 days. The problem as I see it, is that she reacts in such a dramatic way that she partially instigates him. I have tried coaching her in ways to stop her behavior and hopefully decrease his to no avail. So now my behavioral plan for him began yesterday, and boy am I exhausted.
Thankfully I have written my share of behavioral plans in the past and instituted them. So as of yesterday, Nicholas is stopped each time he hits, made to say he is sorry and hug his sister. He is not allowed to play with any toys until he has done so. Every time is a battle of wills. Mommy versus Nicholas. So far I seem to be winning, but my energy is quickly fading. I know we are in it for the long haul in an effort to end or at least decrease the behavior. I know that his behavior is supposed to get worse before it gets better just to make sure the limits are going to stick. But boy is it exhausting.
I know this is "normal" 2 year old behavior. Hopefully the plan works and peace will reign or at least make a showing every so often here.
Monday, November 13, 2006
The latest book Katie and I finished reading was My Father's Dragon.
The book is enormously entertaining, and would be great for little boys. Better yet, it is a great first chapter book. The chapters are short and full of adventure. During the crocodile chapter, Katie yelled out, "Oh NO!". I thought something was wrong. She was just yelling to the book it turns out. She was so into it that she was worried about the Elmer being attacked by crocodiles.
If you haven't read a good book to your little ones in a while, this is a great one.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Monday, November 06, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Now don't get me wrong. I love the cold weather. The trees are gorgeous. Orange, Red, Yellow... provided they still have leaves. I look forward to seeing my little guys out in the snow this winter. I like wearing sweaters and warm clothing. I love heating water up at night for cocoa or cider. And fall is the perfect time to catch up on all that baking. The neighbors keep telling me, it is great for catching up on all those household projects you've been meaning to get to all summer as well.
The tough part is convincing my kids that wearing layers of clothing is a good thing. That keeping any clothes on for Nicholas is fairly important. That going outside when it is cold, windy and rainy isn't a reality. That colds will probably occur more often now.
As we all begin to recover from our various colds, I've become nostalgic for Texas weather and friends. I long for friends that I could call in the morning and get together with an hour later. I liked the ability to have just one season of clothes for a main wardrobe with a few winter clothes thrown in.
But cuddling under blankets with my 2 warm and snuggly children definately is worth the cold.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
The kids enjoyed the rest of the night, handing out candy, and of course eating candy. Nicholas figured out the best way to trick-or-treat. While Daddy hands out candy to the other kids, take a few pieces for yourself, and carefully transfer them to your pumpkin. By the end of the evening, he had claimed a good 15 extra pieces for himself.
Monday, October 30, 2006
I also have found disappointment in the service category of most companies. If I don't stay ever vigilant to my bills from various utility companies and the like, we end up with charges that are inaccurate. It has gotten to the point that I spend more than an hour a week, resolving issues. What has happened to American businesses?
My latest gripe was with a furniture company. I went to buy Katie a bed at a big furniture company that is nationwide. I picked out the bed that they told me was white. When it arrived, not only was the bed not a pure white, but it also was way too tall for her room, and the dresser arrived with a huge scratch down the top. As if that wasn't enough, when the furniture company came to take the bedroom set back, they put a small hole in Katie's wall that I had just painted 2 months ago. Of course, I also ragged off a 2nd layer of paint with a glaze mixture, so the damage is going to be difficult to correct without totally repainting. Not only did they put the hole in the wall, but they did not tell us that they did it. They just left, and I found the hole a few hours later. The furniture company sent out a representative to assess the damage supposedly, but when the gentleman arrived, he stated that he was a furniture repair person and had no clue why he was sent. I am still waiting on a final response from the furniture company as to how they will resolve the issue.
On to the excellent experience.
I ended up getting Katie's bed at Pottery Barn Kids, on sale, at the same price I paid at the other store. I ordered it over a month ago. Over a month ago, I also got an email saying it was shipped at the same time that another piece I ordered was shipped. One piece arrived, a week later, the bed had not come. I then called customer service, where I got a representative, who said the bed had been shipped and I should be called that week for delivery. One week later, still no call. I called customer service again, who said the person I needed to speak with was on the line, and that I would receive a call in 24 hours. 48 hours later, no call. Finally, I went online and completed a survey about my experience. I immediately got feedback from a representative. She contacted the delivery company (apparently for beds, Pottery Barn contracts delivery with another company in Cincinnati), and arranged for delivery. The bed was delivered on Saturday, and I love it! It matches her room perfectly and the delivery men were very professional and friendly. The customer service representative contacted me again via email today to request a response on how delivery went. When I replied that it went well, and we were very happy with the bed, I got a second reply, that they were giving us $100 for the inconvenience.
I never replied that I deserved to be compensated. I never spoke rudely to customer service, even though frustrated. I used kindness in trying to resolve the matter, and feel greatly rewarded for it.
Kindness does go a long way!! In this case $100.
1. I graduated valedictorian from a Catholic high school in Joliet, Illinois. I really didn't try to be valedictorian, since I really despised the idea of having to make a speech at graduation, but I also didn't think I should fake wrong answers just to lower my grades.
2. During college, I worked as a nanny to twins, as well as worked in the Loyola University Freshman Dean's Office. Working in the dean's office had many perks!!! Early registration for classes, paid summer meals, and getting in on the latest news early.
3. I met my husband while on Spring break in Florida. My friends in high school, ended up being his friends in college. I knew then that he was something special.
4. I actually first met my husband at the above mentioned friends wedding. We were both in the wedding party and sat right next to each other at the reception.
5. More and more, I think about going back to school to become a doctor. I want to be a doctor like I had, that recommends natural remedies before antibiotics or over the counter products, and is interested in the other aspects of family life that impact a person's health.
6. I love children! Especially my own two. I delight in their wonder and curiosity. I am excited, right along with them, about watching ladybugs crawl on the ground. I find their little hands and toes kissable. And I love watching them learn about their world.
7. I grew up in Joliet, Illinois. Location of the beginning of the Blues Brothers movie at Stateville Prison.
8. I worked with autistic and developmentally delayed children at Texas Children's Hospital, and would love to continue working in any capacity to help these children.
9. I still love to color. I would sit before having children and color in old coloring books. A new box of crayons brings joy to my heart.
10. I love Disney!! I have a collection of figurines that I started when I was 5 and took my first trip to Disney World. I started with 4 figures and now have somewhere over 60. I can't wait until our family goes to Disney World this fall.
Yesterday, Nick began ramming his sister with assorted objects, and generally being obstinate. Definately feeling much better. The brightness was back in his eyes, and while he still has the runny nose and cough, the fever is gone and his eyes are clear. The doctor pronounced his ears looking better on Saturday, so things are going well for him.
Katie and I, now are full of the cold symptoms: runny nose, cough, congestion, and tiredness. Just in time for Halloween as usual.
The strange part...
While none of us is particularly hungry for anything, I had the strangest craving today (and NO I am most definately not pregnant). For those of you who know me, you'll know this is totally out of character. I ate a bologna and cheese sandwich for lunch with mayonnaise. It sounded so good and I must confess in my state of illness, tasted quite good too. I despise mayonnaise. I truly think bologna is just a flat cold hot dog, which I don't like either. But today, those two things were just the ticket!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Now, I also have a second child, who at the wise age of almost 5, has found that when sick, you get lots of attention from mom, plus the added bonus of watching a movie in the morning. So all day it has been, "I don't feel good.....I'm not hungry, I'm too sick to eat......I think I need a movie now."
I know all the wonderful mothers out there who read this probably come up with all kinds of wonderful ways to handle both their sick children and well children. I, on the other hand, am exhausted from lack of sleep, and feeling quite frustrated with attempts to stop the complaining, whining, and general unhappiness that reigns here today. While I know they are this young only once, it seems to last an eternity today.
Monday, October 23, 2006
After Daddy's marvelous carving job, Mommy's magnificent scraping of guts, and a quick search for candles, we admired our family results with the lights out.