Saturday, November 29, 2008

Getting to know you... Christmas style

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I prefer gift bags simply because I am horrible at wrapping gifts.

2. Real tree or Artificial? When we actually have room for a tree, we'll use an artificial. As for now, we'll stick to our super cool fiber optic mini tree... and we'll enjoy everyone else's trees.

3. When do you put up the tree? Ordinarily, Christmas stuff doesn't come out until after Thanksgiving. For some reason I couldn't wait. Our stuff's been out about 2 weeks already.

4. When do you take the tree down? Sometime after the New Year

5. Do you like eggnog? Not really. I prefer spiced hot cider and hot cocoa with mini marshmallows.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Cabbage Patch Kid dolls and legos sets

7. Hardest person to buy for? The person that buys things whenever they want... so they already have everything.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My children.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Not yet, but someday...

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Snail mail, of course

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Christmas '01... I remember it vividly. RD and I were already "unofficially engaged" and so, I was totally expecting a ring for Christmas. Sure enough, there was a small little gift bag from a local jeweler under his parent's tree... and it had MY name on it!!! I knew what I was getting! Christmas day came, all the family was gathered round, and RD excitedly handed me my jeweler bag... he was literally grinning from ear to ear. This was it! This was the blessed moment I'd anticipated all my life!!! As I cautiously pulled the tissue paper out... heart racing... I pulled out... I pulled out a... a set of yellow rubber dishwashing gloves?! WHAT?! RD explained that I had been complaining about the dish water drying my hands out, so he bought some for me. If his family hadn't been there, I would have socked him a good one. Instead, I about cried. He had other stuff to give me besides the gloves... but the bleak memory of NOT getting a ring... and getting yellow dish gloves instead... tainted my memory of whatever else I received that year. His excuse for using a jeweler bag was that he couldn't find anything else small enough to hold the gloves. Whatever! It was all in good jest... and he made up for it on January 9th, 2002... when I really DID get a ring at an unsuspecting time. It's funny now.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The one with Ralphie in it... what was that? A Christmas Story?...

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? We started back in late summer.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes... and I will never tell who or what.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Oreo truffles, ham

16. Lights on the tree? Yes. Lots! "Would you like a bit of tree with them there lights?"

17. Favorite Christmas songs? The crazy Christmas CD my friend Kris made

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? RD and I's family swap Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families... so it really depends on the year. But yes, almost always we travel.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Yes

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? star

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve? No

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Obligatory gifts

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? silver & blue

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Ham

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? For my kids to understand that Christmas isn't about getting gifts... but about Jesus. He is the best gift we could ever receive!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another miscellaneous

I hate to waste.
So rather than throw away limp celery...
My mom shared a nifty trick to resurrect celery: cut the bottom of the stalks off and place in a glass of unsoftened tap water. Place in refrigerator. They come back to life within 24 hours!

My kiddos "camping out" in the living room.

Look at the sheer size of this boy! Edmund is HUGE!
Might I add, Miss Arianna is pretty strong.


I printed off a picture of a turkey and told my three oldest to replicate it artistically. Here's what they came up with using Play-doh and bobby pins:

Cassandra made "baby turkey's"

Fun with fingerpaint!

I'm signing off until after the Thanksgiving holiday. We'll be gone from Wednesday to (late) Friday visiting family in Michigan. Hope you all have a WONDERFUL and safe Thanksgiving!!!

Apples Apples Galore!

We've been mighty busy this past weekend.
Here's what we were up to:

This time, instead of using Macintosh apples, we used a kind called Downing Tart. (Ok, but a bit too tart. It worked, though.) We went back to our local orchard and purchased 1 whole bushel!!! After trying to peel some of the apples by hand, we finally broke down and borrowed an apple peeler from our neighbor. (Thanks, Vickie!) SO MUCH FASTER! RD found an apple peeler online at Target for a really good price. Guess what I'm getting for Christmas!!!

So anyway, here's RD peeling apples. It was something "mechanical" so he thoroughly enjoyed playing, er, I mean, working with it. Vickie also let us borrow a slab of countertop to use as well. Very convenient. (If anyone is looking to buy one of these, may I suggest purchasing a kind that clamps rather than suctions to the countertop. I've heard the latter do not work so well.)

1/2 bushel done in like 10 minutes, if that!

Then... we were left with THIS:
Did I ever tell you that I simply HATE wasting?
There had to be something we could do with apple peels!
Then I remembered a fellow mommy blogger friend who made JELLY from peels. Intrigued, we tried it.

Here's our adventure: Apple Peel Jelly

Cook the peels down. (We threw everything in: peels, cores, seeds, stems...) We also added a cinnamon stick.
Looks yucky but smelled blissful!

Strain it.

Our's was a beautiful pink color!

Finished product.
We canned 14 pints!
Amazingly simple recipe. SO good... and you'd never believe it was made from apple peels!
*If you prefer a really clear jelly, use a jelly bag instead of a strainer.

We discarded what was left of the peels after straining. But apparently you can even use THOSE remains to make cider vinegar:
Take strained peels and cores, put in bucket. Cover slightly with water and allow to ferment. Strain once more. Use for cooking and/or cleaning.


Here's what we did with Arianna's pressed flowers.

Here's what the flowers looked like post-pressing.

Arianna made a get-well card and some bookmarks. We bought some thermal laminating sheets at Wal-Mart and are going to laminate them all so we can use/treasure her creativity.

Chicken Noodle Stir Fry. Very yummy!

Ya know those kids' sleepers with the footies?... The ones that are only good for one winter? They frustrate me! So... I cut the footies off and sewed a hem! Good to go one more winter.

Did a Google search the other day for Scooby Doo coloring pages, per Arianna's request. After printing it off for her, she runs to her book shelf and finds her Scooby Doo book... just so she can match the color of their clothing (so it's "juuuust right"). Smart kid!

Vodka vanilla.
This stuff tastes SO GOOD in baked goods. RD and I are making some for Christmas gifts. Here's how you make it:

Vodka vanilla (makes approx. 1 pint)
Split 2 large vanilla beans lengthwise. Pack into a 1 pint glass jar. Pour over beans 1-1/2 cups of 100 proof vodka. Cover tightly. Let set in cool, dry place for 6 months for full potency. Use exactly as you would conventional store bought vanilla.

Happy 5 months!

As of yesterday, 11-24-08, Mr. Edmund is 5 months old!
We cannot believe it!
Here's some pics of our "little" guy...

He just passed out right in the middle of the floor.
How he did that with all the commotion from his brother and sister's I'll never know...

When he starts sucking his thumb we know he's getting tired.

Gnawing on a pizza crust.

Mr. Edmund:
-eats oatmeal, applesauce, bananas, yogurt, Cheerios (and pizza crusts!)
-sucks his thumb when he gets sleepy
-gets up on all fours, sometimes pushing his bottom up so he's on his hands and toes
-rolls with ease
-sleeps on his tummy
-is getting too big for his carseat!
-wears 6-9 months clothes
-sorta scoots on his tummy
-still loves being outside, even if it's cold
-loves to watch movies
-loves music
-let's Arianna feed him
-has pretty decent control of his hands (so watch out!)
-loves to lay and watch our fiber optic Christmas tree
-will finally take a bottle!
-sleeps through the night most nights (from 9pm-8am)
-analyzes everything he sees; very contemplative
-very relaxed/calm personality; easy-going
-hates wearing socks; kicks them off any chance he gets
-can sit up ok with support
-when laying on his back, he lifts his legs up and grabs his toes

Monday, November 24, 2008

Menu Planning

Monday: (crockpot) Ham roast w/ potatoes; green beans
Tuesday: Biscuits & gravy w/ ham (roast leftovers)
Wednesday: Pierogies (2 kinds: sauerkraut/bacon & bacon/potato/cheese)
Thursday: TURKEY! & all the fixings!
Friday: -?- (We'll be in MI visiting family)
Saturday: Peppy Parmesan Pasta; salad; cottage cheese
Sunday: Southern Fried Chicken; corn

On the side:
-I'm going to use the ham bone to make ham stock
-homemade clover rolls
-eggs & fried bologna
-apple pie

Peppy Parmesan Pasta (serves 6)
12 oz. whole wheat pasta
1 large tomato, chopped
1 cup diced pepperoni
1/2 can sliced ripe olives, drained
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
5 Tbl. olive oil
1/4 cup diced onions
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large serving bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Drain pasta; add to the tomato mixture and toss to coat.

Southern Fried Chicken (serves 8)
2 eggs
2 Tbl. milk
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
3 to 3-1/2 pounds chicken (breasts, leg quarters, drumsticks, cut-up fryer chicken, etc.), thawed
1 cup shortening
Milk Gravy:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/8 tsp browning sauce (optional)
fresh oregano (optional)
In a medium bowl, beat eggs and milk. In another bowl, combine flour and seasonings. Dip chicken pieces in egg mixture, then in flour mixture.
Heat shortening in a large skillet; brown the chicken on both sides. Cover and cook the chicken over low heat for 45 minutes or until juices run clear. Remove chicken from the skillet; keep warm. Reserve 1/4 cup drippings in skillet.
For gravy, stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes or until browned. Combine milk and water; add to skillet. Bring to a boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Add browning sauce if desired. Serve with chicken. Garnish with oregano if desired.

Here's what our pierogies looked like. Yummy! We're definitely going to make these again sometime. It's sorta like a dumpling.


Mon. 11/17: 145 various arm exercises w/ 5lb weights; 140 various sit-ups; 300 various leg lifts
Tues. 11/18: run 2.7 miles (treadmill) @ 5.2 mph; speed walked .4 miles; total: 3.1 miles; took 38 min.s
Weds. 11/19: 190 various sit-ups
Thurs. 11/20: 3 mile video w/ 3 lb weights; 90 various sit-ups

And... I lost 3 pounds!!!

Got "font"?

This is SUCH a cool site! There are so many just neat neat fonts you can download for free. We just downloaded the font "Akbar"- it looks just like the Simpson's logo. I liked it because it sort of looks like a child's handwriting... which we were needing for a birthday card we're preparing. Have fun!

Friday, November 21, 2008


I don't tend to get many comments submitted, so I am curious...
Who reads this blog?
Stop in and say hello. I'd love to connect and meet with you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's on our plate!

This week's menu:
Sun: pizza leftovers & salad
Mon: Chicken Noodle Stir Fry (again); cottage cheese
Tues: Wheat spaghetti w/ mushrooms & salad
Weds: loaded baked potatoes (steamed broccoli, onion, cheese, sour cream)
Thurs: chili w/ shredded cheese

Electronic sabbatical

The kids are going on a 1 week electronic sabbatical. No movies... no computer... no Wii... Nothing! Yesterday, I'd finally had it. No sooner had my kids surfaced from their nightly slumber were they asking the infamous, seemingly every 10 minute question, "Can we watch a movie?" Grrr! We hadn't even gotten dressed or eaten breakfast! Now, we hadn't gone overboard in the electronics department... and most of the stuff I let them view was "educational". But I think it was still too much. So it's on the calendar... nothing until next Tuesday (or longer)!

Our big boy!

Edmund... who is 4.5 months old... is now wearing 6-9 month clothes! Super chunk! He was getting a bit too big for his britches and so today I did the clothing transfer. Fits him MUCH better...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Printable Chore Chart

Find it right here!

Monday Check-In!!!

Wed. 11/12: 160 leglifts
Thurs. 11/13: 3 mi. video w/ 3 lb. weights; 90 various sit-ups
Fri. 11/14: 3 mi. video w/ 3 lb. weights; 90 various sit-ups; 26 min. Pilates video
Sun. 11/16: 3.1 miles on treadmill (2-1/2 mi. was running, 1/2 mi. was speedwalking); 4.7-5.0 mph; took 41 min.s

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

I was inspired by Michelle's post. Thought I'd ask my own little kiddos what their favorites were. Here were their answers:

Food: Arianna- loaded baked potatoes; Benjamin- corn
Drink: A- pop; B- water
Candy: A- gum; B- peanut M & M's
Song: A- any Christmas song; B- March of the Wooden Soldiers (from Babes in Toyland)
Book: A- Garfield comics; B- Green Eggs and Ham
Movie: A- Charlotte's Web; B- Spiderman
TV show: A- Word Girl; B- Spongebob Square Pants
Color: A- dark blue; B- blue
Toy: A- fairy dolls; B- Buzz Lightyear
Instrument: A- drum; B- guitar
Friend: A- Madisyn (cousin); B- Jaden (from church)
Place to go: A- Madisyn's house; B- Amara's house (cousin)
Thing to do outside: A- swing at the park; B- swing
Thing to do with Mommy: A- make presents; B- play games
Thing to do with Daddy: A- watch movies; B- play games
Dog: A- Dusty (grandpa & grandma E's); B- Shadow (grandpa & grandma D's)
Family Member: A- Grandma E.; B- Aunt Shauna
Part of bedtime ritual: A- when Benjamin is actually quiet and let's her sleep; B- night night bear

Kid Stuff

My beautiful cherubs!

Here's the Daily Activities chart the kids and I made this morning. Thought they'd benefit from a visual reminder of all the things they need to accomplish each day.

A huge hornets nest got knocked out of a tree out back. Here's a piece of the hive with a dead hornet I found in one of the holes. Kids got a kick out of it. All that first day it was inside the house I kept checking on that hornet to make sure it didn't resurrect itself. YIKES! I am terribly afraid of bees... which is funny because melissaphobia is the fear of bees. Uncanny...
It's dead though. Whew!