Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I’m listening to John Denver Christmas

In order for it to officially be Christmastime around here there has to be a few things checked off the list.

One is obviously Thanksgiving…how was yours? Ours was fine and dandy, and now all the pies are gone and the leftovers have lost their luster.  But someone will eat them, that is a perk of a large family. 

The youngest child had a birthday, which is the last of all the fall birthdays.  He sits through a bunch of birthdays until finally it is his turn.  He requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate ice cream.  I guess he likes chocolate.


such a kind and loving boy

And lastly we finished the Fall Leaves Yankee Candle we bought three years ago.  The smell kind of gave me a headache but I burned it for three Fall’s.  Waste not, want not.

So now, it is officially Christmas.  And as if on cue my husband brought home a Yankee Candle entitled Mistletoe.  He kept holding it above my head for a kiss but I didn’t get the joke because I was thinking of a nice way to tell him it smells like cat pee.

PS There is no nice way to tell him.

During the last few weeks I have read several food recommendations. 

Just for her, I tried peppermint ice cream.  It’s delicious!  I wouldn’t have normally bought it but I can’t think of a better evening treat to have while sitting in front of the wood stove.  Maybe it doesn’t feel as sinful because it’s minty.  Thanks H!

And recently thanks to her, I bought a cinnamon roll.  And I ate it!  It must have had 2000 calories!  That’s like three whole days on the elliptical machine.  But yes, Andi, it was really, really good.                                                                                   Her sister recommended these:


and truthfully Dawn, they are the best pickles I have ever had. 

All this before I’ve done any holiday baking.  Last month I looked like this:


And  already I feel like this:



Here is an older Christmas calendar from the BBC, each day opens a new Bach piece.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

being grateful while being anxious

Is it possible to look forward to entertaining while kind of dreading it at the same time?

I love gearing up for a holiday, getting the house straightened up ( I like that, so shoot me) and everyone’s outfits pressed and starched.  I like using the pretty dishes and linens and decorating within reason.  I even like inviting people over to sit at our table and share a meal.  But the anxiety that comes with it just about does me in.  The only remedy that quenches my anxiety is being grateful.  It’s very easy to turn inward and hesitantly I admit I often do.

But the truth is I am very grateful…for the big stuff, like my family and having a table and food to share.  And for the little stuff like seeing my kids interact and having the ability to appreciate that, cause trust me there are days when I am so doggone tired I don’t see the warmth and love in my everyday life. 


But it is there each and every day, even the off ones and I am so very grateful for that.


Pushing anxiety aside always seems like work.  I struggle with it.  It’s kind of like being an outgoing person stuck in a shy person’s body.  Oh and having really good jokes to say about the dinner guests and having to keep them all in.


I hope this week you find yourselves surrounded by good company and food.  And that all that stuff about politics and weather and holiday shopping is replaced with gratitude for the simple things like a good book and your grandmother’s crocheted blanket.

We have an exterior room off our house that has a very high balcony.  Henry and I were cleaning the room today and I let him pee off the balcony.  He was so thrilled by this and must have said “THANKS, MOM” five or six times.

I think that is gratitude at its best.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

putting together a baking list

I like making a holiday baking list each year.  And I’m fairly certain I like to bake, it’s just a bad formula to mix a long list of baking with the other holiday rush type stuff that makes me a little crazy.  But this will be the year, right?  There will be no stress and no messes and I won’t run out of any ingredients and I won’t sample too much and feel bloaty and I will wake early and go to bed late and never be a bit tired. 

These peppermint whoopie pies look pretty and the website they are on has some really great recipes.

And the King Arthur website is among my favorites, I like this brownie embellishment idea.  It looks easy yet elegant.


Another idea I thought about was cheating with chocolate covered pretzels.  Last year I made 60 cello bags full.  They were holiday shaped pretzels I bought at Big Lots (classy) and it took me a whole day to make them, I thought I would never want to make them again. I think this year I will try buying pretzels already covered in choc and warm them a little and sprinkle them or drizzle with melted white choc.  Pretzel cheating…even classier than shopping at Big Lots.


What’s on your baking list? Is there something you make every year for the sake of tradition?



Friday, November 19, 2010

like mother like cat


Sunlight gazing in through the curtains on a cool Fall afternoon makes me tired, too. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

bits and pieces

My days are really just mosaics of time all put together edge to edge until the whole day is filled up.  Little bits of do this and do that that sometimes overlap each other.  For the most part when I lay my head on my pillow I am at peace with the day that was just spent, it’s rewarding to be needed and have things to do.  Of course there is always that mental wish list of stuff I wish I had been able to do.  But it’s just having a list that keeps us going, isn’t it?  I love crossing things off as much as I love adding more things to it.

In my short bursts of spare time I have been finding bits and pieces of craftiness to fill that whim that my idle hands often crave.  


The past few nights I have been sitting at the little table in my room cutting and gluing a little book.  A little book all for me which seems like a really selfish thing to do amongst the list of Christmas presents that need to be bought or finished.


It started out as a board book with gnawed edges compliments of my own teething babies.  I sanded down the shiny pages and used tacky glue to adhere little paper and ribbon bits.  When I am finished I will coat each page with decoupage glue.   



While I was making it I had this epiphany that I am the mother of three girls?  Before you have kids it is a scary thought to imagine having to care for someone else everyday for the rest of your life.  It freaked me out all nine months.  But then lo and behold my oldest is now 18 and I forgot I ever felt that way-- until the other night as I was looking at this picture of Molly’s chubby thighs and I thought (and I apologize for my use of the word Holy and the word Shasizzle which really isn’t even a word)…..Holy Shasizzle I have three daughters (and two sons but they weren’t part of my epiphany).  And for about ten minutes it freaked my freak.

But now I am back to taking them for granted and yelling about how they jam the tv remote into the couch cushions and leave trails of papers and hairpins and shoes throughout the house. How I love my girls!

Other crafty bits that really just take a trip to the craft store and a few minutes:

015 016

Magnetic wooden letters using:

 Wooden tile letters, self stick magnet tape, rub on ABC’s and a shiny brush on coating. 

We ignored the preprinted ABC’s because they looked terrible and used the reverse blank side to apply rub on letters. 


I used three packs of rub ons to ensure we would have enough letters so my newly teenage son could spell out things like  “Maggie and Molly smell bad” ( that’s 3 M’s and 4 L’s).


I also bought these little, tiny bird houses at Michael’s. I’m not sure where to put them.  


I repainted them and bought little fake birds (duh, right? like I was going to put real birds in there.)  Maybe in our next house I will hang them in a window corner?  I don’t know where our next house will be but I do know we will be there in about 6 months or so.  It’s annoying not to know where we will go for sure, but it’s certain we are going somewhere and that at least is enough push to get everything done.

Have a happy day…thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

an inability to coordinate my thoughts…says she


Come here and chat with me, you can sit here on this uncomfortable chair that feels as though it will tip you over.  Little chairs are so inconveniently pretty, don’t you think?

Before I begin writing I should probably apologize…because I am kind of embarrassed for falling prey to a trend.  But I can’t hold it in any longer.

I love Julia Child.

I didn’t really love her before the whole Julie & Julia movie/blog bust. 

Years ago I only watched her when there was nothing else on, and I mean absolutely nothing else.  And now I feel bad about that.

I watched the movie the day it came out in theaters and I liked it.  Then I bought my daughter her cookbook for Christmas and I loved it.  Then I watched  a ton of old episodes of The French Chef and now I’m nearly done with her biography: My Life In France.  And I am forever changed.  I almost feel as though I can’t finish the book because I will miss her.  Does this happen to you?


Outside of her obsession with cooking, she was smart and creative


and had an incredible wit. 

Sometimes her words strike something emotional in me…whether it is how she sees herself, or her reflections of thoughts of her parents and politics but especially when I read of her getting adjusted to living life abroad. 

“Upon reflection, I decided I had three main weaknesses: I was confused (evidenced by a lack of facts, an inability to coordinate my thoughts, and an inability to verbalize my ideas); I had a lack of confidence, which caused me to back down from forcefully stated positions; and I was overly emotional at the expense of careful, “scientific” thought.  I was thirty-seven years old and still discovering who I was.”

Sometimes I exhaust myself with thinking.  But it is always unorganized thinking and pretty much never productive.  And that’s why I admire her because at 37 she had a thought and a whim and created something productive and fulfilling to herself. 

After watching the French Chef I learned that I would like to be a better cook.  I don’t want to buy my meat wrapped in styrofoam and plastic. 

Also I wanted large clear glass bowls. I looked everywhere and then gave up.  Then one day I went into Albertson’s (the one where I bought three cake mixes with mites in them and vowed never to go back)  and there were 4 quart glass bowls just like Julia’s for $4.99.


I think they had been sitting on that shelf since the 1960’s.

It’s funny how you can spend so much time searching for something and it’s been right under your nose the whole time.

Thanks Julia for teaching me that  it’s okay to still be discovering who I am.

Monday, November 8, 2010

back in the saddle

Happy days are here again, though I feel like I am looking at my children with new eyes. 

I woke this morning and watched the sun slowly peek up from the edge of the horizon until it was a big orange fire ball that spread pinky puffy swirls across the sky.  There was no rush to ready the kids for school as we changed the clocks, it made me happy.  I suppose I am in the minority with liking the changing of the clocks as I keep hearing complaints.  The dark evenings don’t bother me, it’s nice to all be snug in the house. 

It seems like I didn’t really sit down the whole month of October.  Now all of a sudden everything is winding down—all the sports and activities…just as much as I enjoy it when it all starts… I enjoy it when it all goes away.

Little Sam turned 13 a few days ago.  He’s a teenager!  That means Ken and I are outnumbered.  Three teenagers at once?


He asked for cherry cheesecake.  Did you know there are 13 letters in “Happy Birthday”?   Did you know those candles cost too much and burned up before he had a chance to blow them all out?


He didn’t seem to mind. 

Hope you are enjoying November.  Are you feeling Christmasy like me?   I want carols and holly and sleigh bells jingling. 

PS This is a relatively easy cheesecake recipe that doesn’t need 6 eggs or 4 boxes of cream cheese.  I like to add a tsp of almond extract.  It’s Sam’s favorite!

Monday, November 1, 2010

thank you

My daughter is out of the hospital and doing very well. 

I appreciate so very much all the words you shared and it humbled me to know you were praying for her…thank you for this.