Tuesday, December 30, 2008

That left turn

A friend recently asked me what my favorite childhood Christmas gift was. To be honest, the only gifts I remember getting are the ones that were captured on home video and watched by me as an adult. I can remember making lists and desperately wanting things, but as far as what those things were, I have no idea. But, there are things that I can remember as clearly as if they happened yesterday...all of the holiday traditions from my childhood.

I grew up in a family of 5 kids. My father was "careful" with his money and we did not go out to eat often when I was young. So when we did, it was a big deal. Every year in December my parents would load the 5 of us into the minivan and we would go out to dinner and then drive around and look at the holiday lights. We did it once a December...without fail.

After dinner we would all beg our parents to take us to Friendly's for dessert...also a big treat for us. My father would always say no, that we could have dessert at home. We would all groan and beg him to take us. Then, just as he was approaching the street where Friendly's was, at the height of our begging, he would quickly put on his turn signal and make that left turn. The car would erupt in cheering and yelling and bouncing up and down.

It happened like that every year, and every year he made that left turn. I can remember cheering as if it was yesterday.

I recently read an article in the paper where a dad said that he would have to buy less presents for his kids this year and how he felt bad about that. You know what?.....they probably won't remember the "stuff" anyway, but be sure to make that left turn....that is something that they'll remember.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My new love....

Well....I have a new love. Santa brought me this for Christmas. I have been hoping for one for a few months now and I was thrilled to open it.

Today was mild here....about 45 degrees....just perfect to take it for a test drive. I drove to my favorite paved trail, pushed a few buttons and away I went. I really LOVED running with it. It was great to be able to keep an eye on my pace and have an exact measurement of the distance I ran. I can't wait to use it in the spring for a race. It was rather large on my little wrist...that is probably the only negative thus far.

I was thinking about running goals for next year while I ran. My blogger friend, Tanya, just passed the 1000 mile mark for the year....go Tanya! After the year ends, my plan is to tally up my total and then set some new running goals for 2009.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We had lots of fun, family and food. It was a great time.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!


I am taking a few days off of blogging for the holidays. We are hosting Christmas here...so there is cleaning and cooking to be done. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

O Christmas Tree... (and Friday fav)

Here are some pics of my tree and its ornaments.

Before you go further, I should mention that my tree is very "sincere". In "The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown", Linus talks about needing to find a sincere pumpkin patch. Well, this is a very sincere Christmas Tree. None of the ornaments match, my 2-year-old has clumped many together, there is no ribbon or garland for fear of what Bubby might do with it, and there are many homemade ornaments, but it is full of love and memories.

This Snoopy ornament was given to me by a very dear friend. It is really small, which makes it even cuter.

I had a holiday party years ago when I still worked and a co-worker gave me this Santa. I LOVE the style of it.

I try to get ornaments when we go on vacation.

I decided that I love Old World style ornaments...so shiny and breakable. I have decided to treat myself to a new one every year. This is the one I bought this year...on sale at Michaels for less than $3. :) I wrote the year on the back.

This one was given to me by good friends last year...we were neighbors at the time. I just love this style ornament!

I got this one the year hubby and I got married....isn't it cute?

When MissyMiss was 2, my husband took her shopping for gifts for me. They chose this Lenox Snoopy and it is one of my absolute favorites. Now the two of them choose a day every year to go Christmas shopping together. I don't know what she chose me, but I do know they went to the quilt shop...yeah!

We all went to a craft fair a few weeks ago...MissyMiss surprised me by buying this ornament for me....I put it at the very top of the tree, so Bubby can't reach it. He has been removing all of the ornaments down low and then carrying them around, arranging them on the floor, loading them in his dump truck, etc. Ya gotta love 2 year old boys!

I bought this Mickey and Minnie one on my honeymoon...we went to Disney...it was my first time there!

This little bear is from my childhood. There are five little animals and they always bring me back to my childhood days. My mom used to line them up on a shelf.

Here is the tree...in all its glory. As you can see...it is very sincere. There is a large empty spot toward the bottom. Note to self: go look in Bubby's dump truck...

Here is MissyMiss. She and I decorated the tree while Bubby was napping...or at least in his bed. She did a great job helping and wanted to know the history of each ornament.

I get each of my kids a new one each year to reflect what they are into that year. This year MissyMiss got a cheerleader and Bubby got a handyman. I told them that when they move out, they will each have a nice set of ornaments to get them started.

This is a bit early....but I am doing a guest Friday fav!!

My friend, who I shall refer to as D-man, is a faithful reader of my blog. While he does not have a blog of his own, he likes to tell me each week what his Friday Fav would be. D-man has chosen.........

Peppermint Ice Cream!

Has anyone else tried it? I have just added it to my grovery list and shall report on what I think.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cookie Tins

I have been so busy baking. I ended up making 16 kinds of cookies! This is a new record for me. They are all chilling away in the freezer. I am going to hubby's work tomorrow to bring in his gifts for the girls in his office and also a tin of cookies. I was only able to fit 1-2 of each type in the tin. I think the tin looks cute. It is hard to see the ones at the bottom. I hope the girls will enjoy them!

In other news, we were hit with some snow and ice on Thursday. Luckily we never lost power. We have a tree out front that has been leaning for some time and we have been considering taking it down. After being covered with ice, it was leaning over so far that it was touching the driveway. So...it was taken down today. I think the house actually looks nicer without it. Our property has a TON of mature trees, so we still have some nice ones for shade in the summer. The tree covered in ice was actually quite beautiful.

In running news, I went out for a run this morning after about a week and a half off due to an awful cold. It was cold out, but overall a relaxing run. I am pretty sure that Santa is bringing me a Garmin 405 with HR monitor. It will be great to not have to go back out over my running route in my car to determine my distance when I choose a new route. I can't wait to try it out!

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Christmas House

Here are some pics of my house decorated for Christmas. I will do the tree and ornaments in another post. I like my house to be Christmas-sy, but also warm and cozy-ish...I am not at all a fancy-schmancy girl. When people come over and say "Your house is so cozy!" it makes me happy...that is exactly what I am going for...must be the quilter in me.

Here is the buffet in my dining room. I love my snowglobes.

This is a shelf in what should be the formal living room, but it is our play room...much more functional that way. :) I got the little tree at a craft fair. I fell in love with it at soon as I saw it. The Santa and snowman are two of my first decorations. I bought them when I was in grad school. They were my only decorations at the time.

I also found this chalk board at a craft fair. I just did the drawing yesterday and MissyMiss told me "You are a very good artist!"

This is the powder room.

O.k...so this is not a Christmas decoration, but he saw me taking pics and kept saying "cheese!" What a cutie. He can't say "r" sounds yet, so when he says "decorations" it sounds like "deco-nations".

Our front door. I made this wreath myself. :)

I have our Chrsitmas village on our 2 mantels. I let MissyMiss pick a house this year and she chose the bakery...baking is something we both love.

I bought the quilt shop this year. When I saw it I just had to have it.

This is our breakfast bar. I got that Santa cookie jar years ago on e-bay. It was one of my first (of many) e-bay purchases. I found that cute placemat at Kohls. It has gingerbread men and cupcakes on it...perfect for the kitchen.

Here is a close up of the tree I put in the kitcen. I decorated it with cookie cutters. I had planned to do a plain tree without lights. But...the kids saw this fiber-optic one and I just didn't have the heart to say no. Bubby stands and stares at the lights. He calls it "mama's tree".

So, there you have it. I will put up some pics of our tree this weekend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Season for Giving

Before I left my career to be a stay-at-home mom, my job took me into the poorest of neighborhoods. Having lived a life where I always had what I needed and more, it opened my eyes to how others live. I worked with kids who wore dirty clothes that were too small and who didn't always have enough to eat...it was truly heartbreaking.

It certainly put things in perspective. Making sure that MissyMiss had the matching accessories for her new Gymboree outfit seemed so trivial and crazy to even consider.

Last year my children received so many wonderful gifts. But, it didn't seem right that they have so much when others have so little. I also felt that they were getting too wrapped up in gifts and losing the real meaning of the season. Over the summer I contacted many relatives that we exchange gifts with and asked if we could stop exchanging. Instead, I planned to do more charity giving through the Salvation Army Angel tree at our Wal-Mart. Everyone was very understanding and I even told MissyMiss of my plan and she thought it was a great idea.

So...the other night MissyMiss and I went out and picked several names from the tree. We chose a variety of ages. Once we got to the toy department, we went one tag at a time. I told MissyMiss the age and boy/girl and she chose the gift. I was so impressed that at 5 years old she put so much thought into each gift and not once did she ask for anything for herself. She was so proud to drop the gifts off at the service desk, knowing that they would be enjoyed by another child. One the way out she took our her own change purse to put money in the red kettle. I was very proud of my daughter that night.

On another note, here is a pic of my family room. I am just putting the finishing touches on our decorations and will put up pictures soon!

Monday, December 8, 2008


I bought a cookie press a few years ago and found this recipe. I gave it a whirl and LOVED them! I think that Spritz cookies are perfect with a mug of hot cocoa or coffee. My kiddos love them too. They are buttery and soft and just delicious!

Full recipe to follow at the end.

First, make the dough.

Here is my cookie press. I got mine at Amazon. Here is the link to it.

I shall warn you...do not attempt spritz if you have had a stressful day. Sometimes the cookie press works like a dream...other times it is pure evil. They take some patience for sure. It is best to not use a non-stick cookie sheet. When you place the gun on the sheet and squeeze...you want the cookie to stick to the baking sheet, which won't always happen with a non-stick sheet. I only have non-stick...hence the stress.

Here they are all ready for the oven.

Here they are cooling down. I am drooling just looking at them. Yummo!

Spritz Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
colored sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, salt and baking powder in another bowl. Gradually add to creamed mixture.
3. Using cookie press, press dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar.
4. Bake at 375 for 7-9 min. Do not brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday Fav...a day late

I apologize for being late with the Friday Fav. Things have been busy here and I have been sick with an awful cold. I meant to get on the computer last night, but ended up on the couch watching Elf...which brings me to my Friday Fav...

This week's Friday Fav is....


I LOVE Christmas movies. I have ever since I was little. I love seeing them in the theatre, buying them on DVD, even watching the cheesy ones on Lifetime. I buy 1 (or more) Christmas movies to add to my collection every year.

Here is a list of the Christmas movies that I own. It is not quite completel because I am just too tired and lazy right now to get up and check to see which ones I missed.

Home Alone
Home Alone 2
Miracle on 34th Street (new one)
Christmas with the Kranks
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original)
Deck the Halls
Snow Globe
Holiday Inn
All I Want for Christmas
Polar Express
Santa Clause
Santa Clause 2
Santa Clause 3

We also have a bunch of kiddie Christmas movies. I just can't help myself when I see one I don't have. I don't own many DVDs in general...but I just can't resist a good (or not so good) Christmas movie.

Here is some trivia...can anyone name which movie each of these lines is from??
1. "Don't push me down Clark."
2. "These toilets are ginormous!"
3. "Denny's...they're always open!"

Hint: The answer to each one is one my above list. Anyone got them???

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Split Second Cookies

Well...here is my mom's recipe for Split Second Cookies. She has been making them for as long as I can remember. When I smell them baking, it smells like Christmas. :)

(Full recipe to follow at the end)

Here are the ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, egg, strawberry jam, and baking powder

The flour has to be sifted before it is measured and then sifted again, together with the baking powder.

Cream the butter, sugar , egg and vanilla. Add in the flour mixture and mix.

Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. I make it into a ball and then cut the ball into quarters. Be sure to work on a well floured surface.

Then, you take one of the 4 portions and press it into an oval shape, about 1/4 inch thick. Use your thumb to make an indentation in the middle and fill that with jam. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min, until golden brown.
Then, transfer to a cutting board and cut while warm. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

This is them on plate at a party. They have a wonderful soft texture and delicious, buttery taste. My mom got the recipe from my grandmother and they are a family favorite!

Split Second Cookies
2 cups sifted flour (sift the flour first and then measure 2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
strawberry or raspberry jam
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Sift together flour and baking powder. Cream together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Add in flour mixture and mix.
3. Make ball and divide into 4 parts. Press each into oblong shape. Use thumb to make depression down the center and fill depression with jam.
4. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min. Cut into bars while warm.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Countdown Begins!

I found the cutest pattern for an Advent calendar last year in a quilting magazine. I purchased the fabric and put it aside to make for this year. Last night, I put the final stitch in...yippee!! It hangs on the wall and has 24 pockets for treats. Some of the small treats fit in the pocket, but some of the larger ones did not. So, I put them in little baggies and labeled them with a # and then put a slip of paper in the pocket with that number on it.

The kids got their first treat tonight...little chocolate Santas. They are thrilled with the "treat calendar". MissyMiss kept telling me what a great job I did. :)

I have been busy baking...recipes and pics will be coming this week!