Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Our House...

WISHING YOU ALL [HAD] A MERRY CHRISTMAS!! NO...this is NOT a picture of our home!! {if only in my dreams} Rather, it is one of the many beautiful, old New England homes I passed on the way to the post office when I delivered the bundled goodies. And it was about the only good thing about having to go to the post office! :)


HAPPENINGS:
{ODE TO OLLIE}
Ollie was a good car. 1987 Chevrolet Cutlas Cierra. We finally had to let him go. He was our first car as a married couple and we got him for a steal. $2500 back in 2001 with low mileage (can't remember off the top of my head). An elderly couple owned it and only drove it around town. That is when Ollie's adventures began. He took a cross-country trip from Chicago to MA and held on for 6 years with us. He was a great car. But it was time to say goodbye. So we drove him off to a car repair shop and received $100 for being able to drive him in. If you look closely, you may notice the dangling review mirror. Yeah, that was totally my fault. One day it just...POP...came right off. Here's to being a one car family!!


{SICKY POOH}
We were doing really well health-wise and almost made it through the bleak mid-winter without getting sick. almost. John actually had it the worst this time around keeping him completely on the couch for 5 days!! When the dr. looked at his throat, he said, "WHOAH...THAT'S NOT GOOD!!" But some prescribed meds helped him finally knock it out. Drew and Jack caught something also putting them in a low state of energy for a couple of days. I thought all was clear and well when everyone was on the rise. Then it hit ME!! So I was out for quite a few days also. I didn't totally mind because it was during the terrible snow storms that seemed to just keep coming. I think it was a full week that I did not leave the house one time with the boys. (I ran out twice very briefly out of necessity). Let's just say I AM SO THANKFUL we got that out of the way in time for Christmas.



CHRISTMAS PREPARATIONS:

***Off to the tree farm down the road. It was FREEZING that night!! We couldn't have picked a worse night to all go out...but we really needed to get our tree up. We have a fabulous full, huge fake tree we "inherited" but we couldn't move things around quite the same this year. So we opted for a darling little real tree...which I LOVE!!!! I have soooo many fond memories of us kids running around the tree farm playing "hide the scarf" while mom and dad picked out the perfect tree. I loved having the pine-scent fill the house this year!!

***So even though we were making memories...Jack was not thrilled at all!!! I don't blame him though. It was like 12* out!! Needless to say we found our tree rather quickly!!


***The boys flying in their airplane box that aunt megan's gifts came in.

***Drew dressed up like daddy. He has a little bit of everything: the dress shoes, the hiking stick, the climbing helmet and a hydration system on his back.

OUR DECKED HALLS:

I know it's a little late...but here's our decked out house. I actually didn't take any pics of the boys rooms yet...still need to do that! SO...without further ado... ***We usually have our tree in the corner of the room since it's so huge but our tiny tree fit perfectly in front of our bay window and I LOVED IT. The lighted garland framed it perfectly!


***my ornament from our NYC trip.

***I have been saving the sleeves off of my Starbucks cups to put on the tree. I thought they were so festive this season! I think I might make something out of them for next year!!

***Jack & Andrew's nutcrackers standing guard the tree.



***the boys' each have a favorite stuffed animal. Not just a preferred animal. A true bond with each of their "friends!" Like, Pixel (drew's penguin that looks more like a duck) now has a voice of his own and says goodnight to mommy in his own way. Should I be concerned?? It is actually adorable. So I decided to get pixel & jack's elephant (name still undetermined) a stocking. Plus I thought these were too cute to pass up. $3 at Michaels!

***my complete Willow Tree Nativity scene. And if you don't recognize the stable that is because it is uniquely mine handmade by my husband from a few years ago.

***Gramma Jo (john's mom) watched the boys one night and did this kid-friendly nativity craft with them. This is actually really cute and she said Jack was really into it: he carefully stuffed the hay inside the pot and gently set the baby Jesus' head in. Every time he sees it he gets this proud smile and points at it like, "I did a craft!!" It is just small clay pots and wood balls with ribbon & raffia.

***a fun circle garland that says "merry christmas"~~my 1.99 find at Christmas Tree Shop! It was an inspiration for another project I did {but need to add to my "take picture of" list}.



*** deer on duty to watching over the stockings

***stockings. Yes, I know, there are only 3. Poor Jack still does not officially have a stocking. Since John and mine match (the 2 outside ones) I really want Jack and Drew's to match. But to no avail. I could not find a stocking with the least likliness of Drew's. So we used a chincy red santa looking one for Jack this year...which I removed for the picture. Better get on that for next year!!

***there's just something about Fresh Flowers in the house!!!

***More flowers & mini glass balls in the apothacary jar. (idea adapted from Stephanie)


***I saw this adorable idea in a magazine while Drew was getting a hair cut. You use glass ornaments and pull off the top part and use it as a vase. They glued it to a circle mirror for the base. I just pulled off the tab that connects the ornament to the hook and flattened it out a bit and glued it to the bottom of the ornament. It gave it something flat to sit on, however they were not super sturdy.

WELL...I must sign off but I have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to still blog about...so come back soon!!! I have really, really enjoyed "spending Christmas with you all" cyber-style!! We will be heading to PA for New Years Eve to visit our friends Brion & Carrie Yarnell so I will try to get all caught up before we go.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Let It Snow...


OH, THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL!!!

Well, we are in full winter weather now. And in case the warmth inside fooled any of us all we had to do was look out our window today!! The snow has been falling ALL day and it's suppose to continue until midnight! I feel like I'm in the middle of a life size snow globe!! Not only that, but we are supposedly getting a Noreastern (really HUGE storm) on Sat. It just keeps coming!!!!! I guess that's one of the "perks" of living in New England. No want of snowman, for sure!!! Enjoy your day, whether it's sunny and warm (what's that???) or blizzardly cold! We have had a couple of pajama days as everyone in the house has been sick, sick, sick!!! I was doing fine, buzzing around taking care of everyone (especially John, who was the worse) but yesterday I woke up with the bug. Yuck. And who takes care of the momma when she's sick??? Thankfully my family has provided comfort food for the last two dinners. And we've been watching far too many DVD's...but I guess that's the fun part of being sick.



Health and warmth to you all!!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

FABULICIOUS!

I always enjoy finding and trying new recipes. But normally I look at what is at hand and whip something up. Usually it turns out just fine. Sometimes, I promise John I will never make it again. And yet once in awhile, a superb concoction reveals itself and has the perfect match of texture and taste that pleases everyone's palates. Well, ok, maybe I wouldn't go that far. But last nights dessert came out really, really good. So I'll share it in case you're looking for something relatively easy:

This candied orange peel gave it a gourmet flare. And I couldn't keep Drew's hands out of the dish.



1. Make Candied Orange Peel.
Bring 1c. water and 1/2 c. sugar to boil.
Peel 2 oranges with a vegetable peeler into long strips (just the orange skin---no white insides; they are bitter). Slice into thin strips.
Add peel to boiling sugar syrup and let boil for about 20 min. until soft and tender.
Remove to parchment paper until cooled. Dredge in 2 Tbs. granulated sugar. (this can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container/ziplock.)

2. Make syrup.
Add 1 Tbs. of fig preserves to reserved sugar syrup. (It has an orange flavor already which would be great without adding anything else). Stir until well mixed over low heat. Let cool. The syrup will thicken a little bit more.

3. Make Dessert
I used pound cake and spooned the syrup over it. Then added a dallop of freshly whipped cream (add 1Tbs. of powdered sugar before whipping to slightly sweeten. If I would have thought about it, I would have added some orange juice also to flavor it.) Garnish with a few slices of candied orange peel.

BON APETIT!!!!!




Drew's Breakfast Face

Lightly drizzle warm pancake with syrup. Cut into bite size pieces. (I am loving how quick & soft the frozen pancakes are. I'm all about short cuts right now!!) Dollop a bit of vanilla yogurt on top of each piece and top with a blueberry. Fun food is always a big hit!!!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

...and many more.


Happy Birthday, my dear friend, Leah!
Hope you had a fabulous day and got some pampering in!!

"It's My Kind Of Town..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I sure do start to get homesick this time of year. Especially when talking to my mom and hearing their house is decked out with the sentimental decorations that I remember from year to year. But I really felt a pang of homesickness when she told me about a visit to downtown Chicago she and my dad took with the Bryan's. Of course, she had to throw in they stopped at Garrett's to get their famous popcorn; my mouth is watering. Navy Pier now has its own Winter Wonderfest Village decked out to the max. I quote, "The Most Spectacular Holiday Event of the Year Begins its Seventh Magical Season with New Attractions and Over 170,000 Square feet of indoor Family Fun." This is definitely going on our family to-do list when the kids get a bit bigger. So even though we are far from the city lights this year, I wanted to share a bit of FUN via interenet with some fun games to get you in the spirit. This is really for the kiddos, but hopefully this season of toys, sledding, snowman building & hot chocolate (well, at least for those of you in the north!!) brings out the child in you as it does me. ENJOY! :) I'll also post this in a NEW link list so if you want to return with your kids it will be easy to find.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
p.s. upon visiting...would you mind posting a comment, even if it's just a 'hey, hi how are ya' so I can "get around" while I am out of my link lists. thanks.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

GRRRRRRR...

My BLOG gets a crooked finger from me today. {point index finger in a hooked manner at offending person or object & make a scowling face. it's a great non-confrontional way of communicating frustration!!}

I finally caved in and decided to change the look of my blog (I'm not a huge fan of change) and I LOVE this background...(ok, truth is I found it via Sarah Branine's new blog look). But during the process I somehow mismanaged or clicked something I wasn't suppose to and lost ALL of my link lists. ALL of them. I am sad and hoping somehow they are still "out there" somewhere in the black hole of blogging so I don't have to add yet another thing to my ever-growing to-do list. So much for a cheery, Christmasy wish today. I'll leave that to Starbucks this time around...I am loving their theme this season: "PASS THE CHEER." Speaking of Starbucks, have you tried their White Chocolate Peppermint Mocha??? It's fabulous!!! (I tried it in the NYC Starbucks!!!)

p.s. if any of you "brains" out there have any suggestions of how I can recover my link lists...I'm all ears!!! :)

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Very Own Super-Hero.


Happy Birthday to my dear hubby:
my best friend, my soul mate, my fellow adventure-seeker, my better half, my inspiration, my biggest fan, my hero. Thanks for making me laugh everyday, especially on those "unlaughable" days!
Love you with all of my heart.
E.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Blessings Abound


Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving as you ponder the abundant blessings in your life.
May our hearts be continually thankful as we are today for His goodness to us.
******************************************
Psalm 145:9
"The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works."
***what do you want to remember from THIS Thanksgiving??

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I Heart NYC

~us in front of the Met. (the BIG art museum)

We just came back late last night from a jam-packed day trip to NYC. (our 1st time)

Tons of fun & memories.
Tons of eyecandy.
Tons of inspiration.
Tons of people.
Tons of walking.
Tons more to see for the next time, and the next time...
Tons of pictures to blog about later.

NO KIDS.

It was a wonderful time away...but there's no place like home! (although, I'd have to also say, There's no place like NYC!!!)
More blogging & pictures to follow for sure; right now, I need to go unpack!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Pinch of This & That

Between looking at the picture of those donuts every time I open my blog and recently watching Ratatouille (loved that movie!) I have been in a food mood!! Maybe it's also the change of season bringing soups that warm the soul, the oven that warms the house while the smell of (hopefully) delicious food fills the air! So on that note, I have also been tagged by Jenny to share a favorite recipe. (Be sure to check out her site for everyone else's recipes)

Well, my friends, it is your lucky day! Because I am going to share TWO with you!! :)
I just couldn't decide between them so here you go:




Sally's Baked Beans
~*~these are not your traditional baked beans...but SO much more! The twist of sweetness melts everyone's taste buds! This recipe is named after my grandmother's best friend, who brought them to every family function. I just made these for a church fellowship and there was not a single bean left in the pot! (I also apologize for NOT having a picture)

16 oz. can of kidney beans, drained
16 oz. can of butter beans, drained
28.5 oz. can of baked beans, drained
1/2 lb bacon, cooked, drained & diced
2 lg. onions, cut into small slices
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/4 c. cider vinegar
4-6 cloves of garlic (or as much as 1 Tbs. of jarred minced garlic)
1 tsp dried mustard
olive oil

1. Cook bacon, onion & garlic in oil until soft, about 8-10 min, stirring.
2. Stir in brown sugar, cider vinegar & mustard and simmer for 20 min.
3. Stir in the beans. (To drain, dump them into a large collendar and stir)
**beware: you need a large pan! I used a 3qt. saute pan which was perfect.
4. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350*

SERVINGS: 8-10


Buffalo Chicken Dip
I have my dear friend Stephanie to thank for introducing this "layered addiction" to us when she visited this past summer. I just made this last night and I love it more and more every time! This is defintely a GREAT guy recipe. It's ooey-gooey, melt-in-you-mouth goodness makes it nearly impossible to resist seconds! (And PERFECT for football season).

4 large chicken breasts
1 jar of Frank's Hot Sauce, buffalo flavor
2 bricks of cream cheese
1 bottle of ranch or blue cheese dressing (we prefer ranch)
8 oz. of finely shredded cheddar cheese

1. Boil chicken until cooked. Drain & shred with two forks (*warning: this takes quite a bit of time). Spread chicken out evenly in a 9 x 13 pan. Pour buffalo sauce over the chicken and genlty stir to combine.
2. On stovetop, melt together cream cheese and dressing, stirring frequently. Pour over the chicken, spreading evenly to maintain a layered effect.
3. Sprinkle Cheese on top to finish the top layer. Heat in 350* oven for about 20 min. until heated through.
4. Serve with *Tortilla Scoops and celery sticks.

SERVINGS: 4-5 (with leftovers)


Now I tag Leah, Debbie, Beth, Tammy, Jill & Stephanie
I know some of you have recently posted a great looking recipe...so you could just link it to that post! If you are able, be sure to visit Jenny's site to add your recipe to the list!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oh, Do You Know the "Donut" Man??


Since fall is quickly slipping away (it is currently 36* here...BRRRR!) I wanted to share this COOL RECIPE before it's too late!! It's SUPER easy (although not so extremely healthy) but a really fun treat!!

"Home-made" Donuts
1 tube of refrigerated biscuit dough
vegetable oil
powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar (for topping)

1. Heat oil in pan over med-high heat for several minutes.

2. Remove biscuits & find something round that is quite a bit smaller. Cut out a hole in each biscuit. Save the holes.

3. Place as many donuts in the pan that will fit. Cook appx. 3-4 min each side, watching not to overcook (my first batch was a bit dark). Don't forget about the holes!! They make perfect minis for the kids!!

4. Roll in a bounty of confectioners sugar or sprinkle with cinnamon sugar to your liking.

ENJOY!!!! And let me know if you try it out and what you think!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

J-o-A-n-C-e-K

can you figure out the title?

see the end of the post for the answer.





JACK's party, a week early.






















[cody & aunt amber...for the record]










[code] to unbreak the title,

read the CAPS letters first, then the lowercase letters.