Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

Sledding at Squaw Butte

Griffie takes a turn

A perfect afternoon

Blueberry muffins and hot cocoa



Video of Steve and Camden sledding

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Adventures in Cooking

I'm pretty confident in my baking abilities, but not so much in my cooking abilities. I have no problem whipping up a cheesecake, some brownies, cookies, biscotti, cakes, muffins, pies, breads, etc., but when it comes to putting a meal on the table, I tend to rely on a rather short list of simple meals that don't require much effort. I've found that when I thumb through a cookbook, I tend to skip over any recipe that looks the least bit difficult, and don't really ever bother trying anything new. So, in the spirit of the approaching New Year, I think I'll try something different. Rather than make the ever-predictable resolution to lose weight, exercise, etc., I will instead embark on a mission to become more daring in the kitchen. I decided to jump right in there this evening, when I cracked open my brand new copy of Stonewall Kitchen Favorites (thanks, Mum and Dad!). I'm embarrassed to admit that in all my 35 years, I've never once prepared roast chicken. I'm not sure why. So, tonight I made Best Roast Chicken with Roasted Garlic-Herb Butter. Oh. My. Goodness. For one thing, it was rather easy to make. I followed the recipe exactly, and the chicken came out perfectly - - so tender, it literally fell of the bone. The first step was to make the garlic butter, which involved roasting some garlic cloves, then mashing them with butter and herbs. After loosening the skin from the bird a bit, you "massage" the butter into the meat, and then spread the rest over the outside of the bird. Yum. Tomorrow, I'll boil down the carcass and make some chicken broth, which will then become chicken soup for Steve's lunches next week. My plan is to try one new recipe each week. I'm pretty sure I'll be relying on Stonewall Kitchen Favorites for a while - - it is full of great recipes. So, stay tuned for more adventures in cooking!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

Why, yes, that is a toilet seat that my precious baby boy is holding. What is he doing, playing with a toilet seat on Christmas Day (or any day, for that matter) you ask? Because my husband gave me a toilet seat for Christmas. That's right, a toilet seat. You see, when we moved into this house, the main bathroom had one of those wooden toilet seats that I really do not like, for whatever reason. Since that time, Steve has listened to me moan and groan about how much I dislike it. So, apparently, he thought I'd love a toilet seat for Christmas. He has a weird sense of humor. I thought it was a tad bit bizarre when I opened it (to say the least), but now that it has been "installed", I have to say, I'm so happy not to have to look at the old wooden seat anymore. The good news for me is, he offset the toilet seat by giving me some fabulous Donna Karan perfume that I've been wanting for a very, very long time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It has been a busy few days here at the house, so this post will consist mainly of photos. In a nutshell, we have been dealing with ear infections, pink eye, mild stomach bugs, sore throats, and such, but thankfully everyone seemed to recover in time for Christmas Eve and today. There were many things that I didn't accomplish (Christmas-wise), but that is life and that is okay. The boys had a fun day today (peppered with a few tantrums, to keep it interesting, no doubt) and are sound asleep now. Without further adieu, photos:
On this particular day, we built a "reindeer den" (as Camden called it) under the kitchen table, made antlers, and then ate our lunch/"reindeer food".

Camden with Santa, at his school Christmas program.

Camden, "shaving" in the bathtub.

Um, yeah. My dining room chairs spent a better part of the past week out in the garage, for the very reason depicted above. Steve concocted a way to tie them together so that Griffin can't pull them out, but there's still the kitchen table and chairs...

Camden, sledding for the first time

Griffin, Banzer, and Camden eating their Christmas Eve dinner

Leaving cookies (and a carrot for Rudolph) for Santa

The boys and their new play kitchen

Playing with Camden's new Tonka dump truck, from Nana and Papa

Griffin was tuckered out, before lunch time!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Card Confessional

I'm not sending out Christmas cards this year. There. I said it, so it is done. I'm guessing this is the first time in, oh, twelve years, that I haven't done cards. I don't even really have a good reason, really. First, I couldn't get a good picture of the boys (they're squirmy). So a few days passed by. Then, a couple of weeks. Then, I tried some more pictures. Still nothing. Then, it kind of slipped my mind, with all the other holiday preparation and such. Late last week, I began to panic. This week ended up being consumed with coughing, boogery noses, doctor visits, pink eye, ear infections, sleepless nights, and lots of grouchiness. At some point I realized I was far too stressed about Whether Or Not I Could Get Cards Done, so I made the executive decision to just throw in the towel. So, there you have it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Traditions

Camden is at such a fun age now - - he was excited about Christmas last year, but I think even then it was all a bit overwhelming for him. This year, he and I have had a lot of fun putting up decorations, talking about Santa, and counting the "sleeps" left until Christmas day, every morning while we are having breakfast. One thing I really love is being able to create our own family traditions that we'll have each year. A lot of what I love about Christmas, though, comes from the great memories that I have, with my parents and my brother. I loved that we stayed in our p.j.'s for as long as we wanted, and made a big mess of the living room. My brother always passed out the gifts, and we opened them one at a time, taking turns. I always liked it that way, because it made it last so much longer! Many times, when I think about Christmases past, this picture comes to mind - - matching jammies. This picture was taken in 1974, so I was two, Kevin was 6, and my Dad there in the corner, was 33. Holy cow I about freaked out when I realized he was only 33 at the time! I don't know if we had matching jammies any year after that, but for whatever reason, I love Christmas jammies. If it wasn't for the fact that I know my husband would laugh in my face if I attempted to outfit all of us in matching Christmas attire, you'd better believe I'd have each one of us decked out. Oh well. At least I can buy them for the boys. Camden actually picked the jammies this year - - Carter's has the best Christmas pajamas. He looked them all over until he found just the right ones. They've been washed and are ready to go under the tree, for the boys to open on Christmas Eve.
Steve is away at drill this weekend, so the boys and I have spend a quiet weekend, bound to the house (as we are without a car!). We've managed to get quite a bit of playing done, along with some cookie-baking, reading, and general mess-making. Griffin has pretty much decided to give up his morning nap, which sort of cramps mine and Camden's style, I must admit. So, we are readjusting our way of doing things. As soon as Griffin went down this afternoon, our project was to set up our nativity set. Camden's been very excited to do this, as he is currently obsessed with the nativity scene at a church on the next block. As we walked to the library the other night, he stopped to check it out, and then asked if we could come back later and put a blanket over the baby Jesus, because he thought he looked cold. It cracked me up, because I had just been reading about the book, Angela and the Baby Jesus, by Frank McCourt. I think I will definitely have to get him this book now! Once we had everything out of their boxes, we read The Story of Christmas, and I'm quite sure it finally all clicked for him. Of course he wants me to keep the nativity set on the floor, but I'm pretty sure it will be on top of the china cabinet before Griffin wakes up.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Elegant Eggnog Dessert

This dessert isn't for everyone - - I'm quite sure you'd need to like eggnog if you are going to make this particular treat. That being said, I am not a huge eggnog fan, but the filling tastes scrumptious. I made this dessert today for a fundraiser the little boys and I will be attending at the library tonight - - I wanted to make something that looked a bit fancier than a plate of brownies, and this did not disappoint. Another great thing about this recipe is that it is super easy. I particularly like the touch that the ribbon tied around the outside adds. You can find the recipe here. If you've never had the pleasure of thumbing through an issue of Taste of Home magazine, treat yourself to a copy. My mom has given me a gift subscription to it for years and years, and I always find great new recipes to try each month. Thanks, Mum!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things: Thrift Stores

More specifically, my local thrift store. It is full of junk, and it is full of treasures. I love to poke around in there and see what I can find. Sometimes, I just can't believe what is lurking in there. I guess that just goes to prove the old saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

I love, love, love this vintage Pyrex refrigerator dish. This one is just 1.5 cups, so it is small. Unfortunately it didn't have the cover with it, but I still love it. 50 cents.

I got this great Kromex serving tray for a dollar. I am fond of Kromex because when we bought this house, I also bought Mrs. Haney's vintage Kromex canister set and bread box, which you might be able to spot in some of the pictures I've taken in my kitchen.

I found this deviled egg plate a few months ago. I've used it so many times already. I'm not sure why I like this dish so much, I just do. I think it is the color (which I couldn't get to come through in the picture) - - it is a very pretty green. $4.00.

I found this vintage fondue pot last week, for $2.00. I don't think it had ever been used. It was perfect for our first course of cheese fondue, this past weekend.

These fondue plates are my favorite find, by far. I have been coveting a set of plates identical to these, on, for about three years now. However, I just couldn't bring myself to spend $40.00 on a set of four --that is just insane. Lucky for me, I got these for 36 cents a piece. Yippee!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Business

Over the weekend, Camden and I tried our hand at making a gingerbread house from scratch. Last year, we bought a kit that had everything we needed in it, but this year, we thought we'd try to be a little more ambitious. We found a great little recipe and template on the internet, and got busy. Camden is such a good little helper in the kitchen, and we sure do have fun together. Decorating, of course, was the best part, because we had to sample all of the candy we used, to make sure that it was up to snuff. The apron that Griffin has on in this first picture, use to be mine, when I was little. It cracks me up to see it on him. And, yes, that is a Spiderman suit that Camden is wearing, go figure.

As I was setting up the picture on the right, a little munchkin walked by just in time to sneak into the shot and grab a gumdrop. He's a shifty one, that Griffin.

Today was a bit comical, as I attempted (and succeeded, I might add!) to retrieve the play kitchen that I bought for the boys, from WalMart. I looked at my calendar this morning, and realized I wasn't really going to have an opportunity between now and Christmas, to make it to WalMart without little ones in tow, so off we went. It was clear, at the pick-up area, that it would be hard to sneak the box past Camden, since it was ginormous, and plastered in pictures of the contents of the box. I was able to occupy Camden with a pirate calendar, and quickly grabbed a piece of poster board in the paper aisle. Then, I had the clerk tape it to the front of the box and then slide it on the bottom of the cart. Camden asked at one point what was in the box, to which I replied, "I don't know." Luckily, that's the only time he asked, and pretty much didn't pay any further attention to it. Phew!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Another Book-Lover is Born

I have been waiting patiently for this...waiting for Griffin to begin to really take an interest in books, and it finally seems to have happened over the weekend. Camden was about the same age when it happened for him - - Steve was home on a brief leave before he left for Iraq, and Camden insisted that Steve read Dinosaurumpus to him, over and over and over. That began Camden's love affair with books. The kid will sit for over an hour at times, in his little chair in his bedroom, looking at book after book. Now, Griffin. He sat patiently (for the first time) two nights ago, and listened, and then he did it again last night. Bedtime stories have always been Steve's thing - - it is his special time with Camden every night, and now Griffin will get to join in. So far, Camden doesn't seem to mind...we'll see how long that lasts!

Earlier this morning, I happened upon the boys in the hallway, each with a book. Unfortunately, Griffin spied my camera, and the moment was over in a flash - no pun intended (he's currently obsessed with my camera and loves to put it on top of his head and "take pictures").

This past weekend was a busy one - - filled with baking, playing, chores, and fondue. Yes, fondue. Last night, Kasey and Banzer came for a visit, and while the boys ate pizza, Steve, Kasey, and I had Beer & Cheese fondue, followed by assorted meat & seafood on the tabletop grill, and ending with a dark chocolate fondue with angle food cake for dipping. I don't know why I don't drag out the old fondue pot more is so much fun.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Passage of Time

For some reason, it has suddenly dawned on me just how fleeting motherhood is. I can't seem to stop thinking about it this week. I think it might have something to do with the fact that I have been realizing just how much time I don't spend with my children, because there always seems to be so many other things going on...dishes to wash, laundry to fold, bills to pay, etc. I mean, the three of us are together every day, but I've caught myself saying too many times lately, "Not right now, I'm busy", or some such phrase aimed at putting-off a rambunctious 4-year-old who wants me to "look" or "come see" all throughout the day. Striking a balance seems to be so challenging for me, and oh how I wish I could improve on that.

Today, after putting Griffin down for a nap, rather than tackling the mound of dishes on the sideboard, I opted instead to bake gingerbread cookies with Camden, and it was wonderful. It is so rare that he and I get to spend one-on-one time together, and tonight I sit here kicking myself, because in the past year we've had ample opportunity, but more often than not, I've "done chores" instead. I suppose I could call today a reality check, but in the spirit of being realistic, I know there will be plenty more days where I do laundry instead of play. What I need to remind myself of is that there will always be laundry, but these precious little boys will one day grow up and move away, and I will have wished I'd done things a little differently.
I find it easy to be hard on myself when it comes to critiquing my performance as a mother. Then again, I continue to learn as I go, and hope that I am providing my boys with what they need to be successful and happy in life. They are my proudest achievement in life, for sure.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Dog Can Only Hold His Bladder for So Long, You Know

Can I just tell you that it has been one of those days? I didn't think it had been, but apparently, it has. We were as busy as we normally are - - music class this morning, rush home and fix lunch, turn around and head back out to get Camden to preschool, come back home, Griffin went down for a nap while I did dishes and picked up various messes, payed some bills, woke Griffin up, picked Camden up from school, went to the grocery store, back home and began dinner prep, Steve comes home briefly for a bite to eat and then back out the door for an Army meeting in Caldwell, get the boys in the bathtub, brush teeth, read stories...phew! Sometime after dinner, Riley is pacing wildly, making me crazy. I asked Camden if he'd fed Riley, Camden says no, so I stupidly keep telling the dog, "just a minute...I'll feed you in a minute..." Then, in my head I tell myself that Riley must also be going nuts because of the meatloaf, cooling on the counter top. He has a bit of a begging problem, you could say. Just a few moments ago, the boys and I were in their room, putting books away when I hear a strange noise, only to look up and see Riley, lifting his leg on the dust ruffle on Griffin's crib. No, it isn't as simple as a peed-on dust ruffle. You see, Riley started peeing somewhere out in the living room, and seems to have turned cartwheels while peeing all the way down the hall, and capped it off by lifting his leg on the crib, right next to where I was sitting, of course, as if saying, "Up yours, lady!" Mind you, all of this was on carpeted floor, so now, although I feel quite confident that I've soaked it all up, I'll be compelled to rent a carpet cleaner this weekend, because, ew, that is just disgusting. Last, but not least, I have nobody to blame but myself, because in all the craziness, I cannot tell you the last time I let the poor dog out today.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What Is It....

...with little boys and cardboard boxes?? Yesterday, a HUGE box arrived in the mail from my parents, containing my childhood rocking chair, which Griffin became quite fond of while we were in Maine. My Nanny had given it to me as a child, so I have been anxiously awaiting its arrival. I was also very excited to see Griffin's reaction when he saw it, because, no joke, that boy rocked day and night while visiting my parents.

He spend all of about two seconds in the chair, and then joined his big brother in being obsessed with the cardboard box and packing peanuts, for the rest of the day. Seriously. Camden pretty much sat in the box for about four hours. Griffin kept trying to eat the packing peanuts, and finally gave up (for the most part) after Steve and I had said, "No Griffie, yuck!" for about the 7,546th time. Mum also included some scoops in the box for Griffin, which is his current obsession. You can see him filling one with packing peanuts, in the picture below.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Griffin's Step Stool

Griffin loves his Rubbermaid step stool. It helps him get into even more mischief than he otherwise would, because, you see, being of such short stature can put you at quite a disadvantage at times.

As you can see, the step stool made it much easier for Griffin to pull all of the drawers out of the advent calendar, and throw them onto the floor.

Today, Griffin discovered that his step stool could give him access to the after-lunch crumbs in his highchair, which he proceeded to eat. About three hours after lunch. Ick.

Friday, November 30, 2007

NaBloPoMo: Day 30!!!

PHEW!! I can't believe I actually did it. Seriously, as silly an accomplishment as it might be, I have to say that for me, it is quite an accomplishment, nonetheless. I have spent many, many years starting various things - - journals, hobbies, resolutions, etc., and rarely do I ever follow through on anything. I'm not sure what it is about me, but I am constantly disappointing myself with my inability to finish what I start. I decided to participate in NaBloPoMo on a whim - - I think I was reading someone else's blog and saw that they were participating, and thought, "What the heck!" but secretly knew I'd probably post a couple of times and then quit. This time, however, I've surprised myself, and saw it through to the end. This was also a good writing exercise for me - - it has reminded me how much I enjoy writing, even when I don't have anything particularly witty to say. So, I think going forward, I'll be posting on a much more frequent basis.

So, if you've been checking in every day, I thank you. I've enjoyed all of your comments, and I hope you'll keep them coming!

In other news, it turns out I have a bad filling and need to have it replaced, but that won't happen until Monday afternoon. In the meantime, I'm chewing on the left side of my mouth, and drinking through a straw. I was kind of hoping the dentist would be kind enough to shoot me up with a weekend's supply of painkiller, but no such luck!

Steve has just come in with the Christmas tree, so it is time to decorate - - yippee!! Camden has been asking all day (and all week, for that matter) and we thought he'd explode if we didn't get right to it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Digging Deep

So, I'm two days away from the end of NaBloPoMo, and I find myself without much to say tonight. Actually, I am just really, really tired and I want to go to bed! I know two little boys who gave their mother a run for her money last night, so I really didn't get much sleep. Combine that with the martini that I had earlier this evening, and I can barely keep my eyes open!

The Christmas decorations will be coming out in full-force this weekend, much to Camden's delight. We've slowly brought out this and that throughout the week, but Camden won't be satisfied until the tree is up. He is already asking, "Is tomorrow Christmas?" multiple times per day, and it isn't even December yet!

I find myself with some sort of major dental malady, so I am off to the dentist at 8:00 tomorrow morning - - can't drink, can't eat, etc., without a massive nerve zing - - not pleasant. Hopefully it is a defective filling and nothing more. All I know is that I want lots of Novocaine and I want it fixed!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I've been attempting to get a photo of the boys together for our Christmas card, but it is so hard! When one is looking at the camera, the other isn't, when one is sitting, the other isn't, etc.. So, we'll see what I can come up with in the next couple of days. I swear, they are so silly with each other.

Steve was supposed to be home from his trip tomorrow evening, but he just now called and will be home tonight - - yay! There's a storm rolling in, and he wanted to avoid that, obviously.

I'm hoping to finish up my Christmas shopping this weekend and I hope I can do it! I got a great deal on a play kitchen for the boys today and I am so excited about it. Camden just loves the play kitchen at school, and I know he and Griffin will get lots of enjoyment out of having one of their own.

I've got one boy in the tub, and one fussing in my lap, so I must run!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

First Snow

We woke up to a dusting of snow this morning, so of course Camden was asking to go out before we even had daylight. He's out there now, while Griffie and I are inside, baking some cinnamon hazelnut biscotti. We don't often get snow that "sticks" to the ground in these parts, so even a dusting is cause for major excitement.

Now, Camden is back in the house, and as I was helping him take his boots off, I remembered sitting with my back up against the red refrigerator, while Mum would yank my boots off, feet covered in bread bags, in case of leaks.

Camden is warming himself up with a cup of cocoa, and I must scurry and get ready for story time at the library this morning. Our topic today is "snow", which should be a big hit!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Snow Globes

I love snow globes. I can't say exactly why, but I've always been fascinated with them. Now, Camden is, too. On Thanksgiving day, Candy had a tray full of all the things we would need to make our own snow globes. It was really a project for the boys, but I dare say, Kasey and I were just as excited about it. Of course, the project came from Martha. What doesn't that woman think of? This picture just doesn't do these snow globes justice - - they are so darn cute. You can use old baby food jars, peanut butter jars, or anything similar. The rest of the supplies are readily available at your local craft store. Tomorrow, we'll take our snow globes with us to story time -- we're going to use them for props, when we read stories about snow.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Something to Try: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I've always been more of a "traditional" whoopie pie kind of gal (because my mother raised me right), but I've been wanting to try a particular recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies for some time now. I saw it in a recent issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray magazine (great read, by the way). The boys and I are having company for lunch tomorrow, so I thought these might make a perfect dessert. Well, the recipe did not disappoint, let me tell you. The pumpkin cakes are light, airy, and oh-so-rich. I must admit, I substituted half of the white four with whole wheat pastry flour, and I was afraid it might make the texture too dense, but it didn't at all. The cream filling was simply butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and confectioner's sugar, and the consistency was just perfect. The recipe states that it make twelve whoopie pies, but I ended up with nine. I think next time I will shoot for ten, because the end result was quite a large whoopie pie. So, if you have some extra time on your hands today, and have a can of pumpkin lying around, you may just want to give this recipe a try.

Pumpkin cake ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and the brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a spatula, fold in the flour. Drop by heaping tablespoons full onto baking sheets. Bake until springy to the touch, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Cream Cheese Filling
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 cup confectioners sugar

With electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese. Add the sugar and salt, then beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread the flat side of each cake with filling, then top with another cake.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Another Wonderful Day

Today, Steve and I took the boys to Boise for the Festival of Trees - - it is a fundraiser one of the local hospitals has each year, and there are tons of Christmas trees that have been decorated by local businesses and organizations. Today was "family day", so there were extra things for kids to see and do. Camden's favorite part by far, was the Lionel train exhibit. He even got to operate one of the trains for a bit, and would have been completely content if we'd skipped the whole tree part and just played with trains. After we'd had our fill inside, we went out and wandered around the Capital City Market, which is open again for the holiday season. It is typically a farmer's market that runs May-October in Boise, and it is fabulous. Camden and I were happy to see our favorite vendor, the mini-donut guy, in full swing. Of course, we felt obligated to purchase a dozen, sprinkled with confectioner's sugar, along with a side of maple cream dip. I'm not sure what Camden likes more - - the donuts, or the little machine you can watch make the them. I tell you, there is nothing like eating hot donuts, right out of the oil, on a brisk winter day. Today was the first time that Griffin got in on the donut action, and had a couple himself. As you can see, he thought they were delicious.

When we got back home, we went to Rex and Kasey's for a visit, and through some bizarre alignment of the planets, Kasey and I ended up going out to eat ALL BY OURSELVES. Oh yes, we left the little guys with the big guys and took off for a local restaurant where we enjoyed a glass of wine, and some fabulous patty melts. Yum. We must remember to do that more often.

Both boys seem to be on the mend from their sniffles, just in time for me to have a bit of a nagging sore throat. I'm hoping that it doesn't amount to anything, since Steve will be away on business next week. Mind over matter!
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