Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Last Day of 2008

I'm not one for New Year's Resolutions. In fact, I've never ever had even one. But I'm kinda in to goals so I've decided to set a few for myself for 2009. These aren't anything major at all (except that first one), but a few things I'd like to get in the habit of doing and learn to do!

1) Reduce the criticism: I am an extremely critical person. I need to learn to let people do things their own way and not point out how much better, more efficient, and practical it is to do it my way. In other words: SHUT UP.

2) Knit a sweater: I still haven't done this yet (after 4 years of knitting) and have been wanting to for a couple of years now. Thankfully I have small children so this can be a smallish project!

3) Bake all my own bread: I love to do it and it is delicious! But sometimes I get lazy. This will include "artisan" breads, bread sticks, hamburger and hot dog buns, etc. ALL BREAD.

4) Cook double and freeze meals: I just started doing this last week and I puff heart LOVE having something in the freezer to grab for a meal. I'd like to have at least 2 frozen meals ready to go at all times.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chocolate, Cacti, and Christmas Lights


We made a trek to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden tonight. Taking pictures at night with a two year old means a lot of fuzz!








How to get a picture of the two year old in the dark: catch her talking to a reindeer...



Small is Good

We had a rather small Christmas this year -- mostly because I was too tired and pregnant to plan well. But I have to admit, small was wonderful! We don't have a ton of new toys, we have a few and the few that the kids received have gotten a lot of play time the past few days! The biggest winner has been the $10 can of Play Doh and accessories we picked up at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. They both love it and play with it together wonderfully.


The Rose Petal Cottage (AKA "Ella's House")was also a good buy and it is adorable! If you can get a good deal (I paid $15 after a rebate), I'd recommend it for any little girl!



Monday, December 29, 2008

Bragging


I can't take the credit, but I can brag!

Last night my mom treated us to Chuck E. Cheese (and I say "us" because the adults enjoy the games as much as the kids!). We ended up with 1500 tickets to spend. Sarah and I went over to start picking out prizes. It took me a few minutes before I realized that Sarah was getting 2 of everything -- one for her and one for Ella. I was planning to just get Ella some stickers! I didn't ask -- she just did it.

Yesterday Sarah was in the kitchen with me getting a beverage when her dad wanted her to go do something. She IMMEDIATELY ceased what she was doing, went and did whatever it was he wanted, then came back and got her drink. My mother would've DIED if we'd have done anything she asked immediately when she asked!


And just a funny: I put on make up today -- just some foundation and eye shadow. This evening I asked my husband if he'd noticed. Sarah piped up that she'd noticed I had eye shadow on. "Well," she said, "it is either eye shadow or you're really tired." Hmmmm... not exactly the look I was going for!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Hard Day's Night

After a long night together....


(My mom is Beatle's fan. I love that song!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Three

The toddler finally stood still long enough for me to snap a picture. Even if she does have a muffin in her mouth and her hair in her face. At least I got it.



(Miles was very content in his sister's arms. He sat there for a good half an hour, wide awake, just gazing around.)

Impromptu Baking

I had an impromptu baking day today. I decided at around 8 AM that since we had no plans, I'd bake. I started with a double batch of pancakes and froze what we didn't eat for breakfast. I made silver dollar pancakes and the girls were absolutely THRILLED with those. It's the simple things in life.

I moved on to what I call Potato Bread, but what Megan calls Real Lovin' Bread. Megan and I went to college together and I highly recommend her blog if you're a foodie. She's amazing -- check out these cookies and don't miss the Turkish Delight!

The bread is the best I've made yet even though I had to use plain old bleached all-purpose flour because it was all I had in the house (bleck, gag, ick, etc). I felt the dough was really sticky after the first rising even though it seemed fine after the initial mixing. I'll try a tad more flour next time even though I don't notice anything odd in the end result. My rising times were also longer, but it's cold out. I had two loaves and was planning to freeze them. I now have one. It's that good. If you are new to bread making, use this recipe first! It's beyond easy.


In between risings, I whipped up Weetabix Muffins. My friend, Lara, made these for a Christmas potluck and YUM! Lara is Australian and Weetabix are from the U.K. so it took about 40 times of her saying "Weetabix" before I realized I had no clue what she was talking about. Trader Joe's sells the cereal, but I happened to find it at Von's by accident. You'll have to trust me until you taste them -- these are AWESOME muffins! The recipe is originally from the side of the cereal box. I doubled all the ingredients and ended up with 24 normal sized muffins and 24 mini muffins.


Weetabix Muffins
Makes 12 Muffins
1-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 Organic Weetabix Biscuits, crushed
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 Tbsp. honey
Brown Sugar for topping (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or use paper baking cups.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the Organic Weetabix and sugar.
3. Mix the yogurt and milk together in a bowl and beat in the egg, melted butter and honey.(I melted the butter, added the honey, then the egg, then the yogurt and milk. Ooops.)
4. Mix wet ingredients into dry, mixing only until just combined.
5. Scoop batter into muffin cups an sprinkle tops with brown sugar.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the muffins have risen and are golden brown.
7. Turn out onto a rack to cool or serve warm. (I froze mine!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Desert Snow

video

Christmas Day

The day did not ring too early for us and the girls patiently waited for an hour to open their presents!

Matching PJs (I could not get all 3 together at one time)



I will never spend more than $1 for gifts for little kids. Her favorite gifts from the Target Dollar Spot: a Disney Princess necklace and Charlie Brown coloring book.


She was thrilled with a jewelry set and Christmas socks. The Littlest Pet Shop toys still remain unopened -- go figure!


I had the pleasure (seriously) of cooking a gorgeous ribeye roast and making Yorkshire Pudding. It was a hit, but no one took my picture.

Then we went to the Bellagio -- along with half the state of California. It was beyond packed! Don't come to Vegas for Christmas -- trust me on that. Thankfully, we know the Bellagio inside and out and stayed away from the crowds and still managed to get our gelato!






Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve at Mimi's

A tapas spread and a few gifts at my sister's place. Including a new nativity for my collection (I've been wanting this one for a few years)!






Cookies!

The girls helped me "make" and decorate cookies. I have to confess that I totally cheated. I used a sugar cookie mix (I got it for 50 cents) and a tub of pre-made frosting. My goal was just to let them have some fun, which they did! Until the cookies were all done and then Ella wasn't happy at all.






Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Attempting a Christmas Photo

This is what you get when you try to take a picture of a tired 2 year old (these are the good ones!).




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