Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas

Christmas celebrations have been wonderful. I am sad to say that Christmas is over and we must wait another year for the season to come again. I am pleased to say that we took advantage of the season and enjoyed ourselves immensely!

Christmas morning was very fun. Pear made us laugh almost constantly. A couple of moments caught on camera:Pear, with her m&m fan from her stocking. Later that morning she walked up to me chewing on something and she said "gum". I made her spit it out and when I looked at her fan, I noticed a hunk bit out of the fan about the size of the piece in my hand.

Jovie giving daddy a kiss.

Pear, opening gifts. Notice the cute hat? It was a gift from Great Grandma Joy which she opened just before. She immediately put it on and kept it on the remainder of the morning.

Jovie

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last year's Christmas memories...

I love Christmas! I have so many fond memories of Christmas. I love the anticipation leading up to Christmas. I love exchanging gifts. I love baking and eating all of the goodies. I love Christmas music and Christmas movies. I really think it's the most wonderful time of the year!

Last December we went with Stephen's family and his mom's sister's family to a big cabin in Leavenworth, WA. It was so much fun! We played games, ate food, listened to music, ate food, danced, ate food, played in the snow and ate more food!

After our departure from Leavenworth, we headed to my parents' house to spend the Christmas holidays. There we played more games, ate more food, opened gifts and celebrated Christmas.

Here are some pictures from Last year's holidays and a glimpse of why I love Christmas time!

Pear in front of our Christmas tree in our Lake House at Lake Samish, Bellingham WA

Claire and Pear at the cabin in Leavenworth, WA

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Pear laughing at the jumping nutcracker on the wall. (If you were there, you remember how funny this was!)

Warren and Jia Tai at the cabin

Melina and Wyatt showing us their dancing skills to some festive music!

Myself, eating. (If you only knew how much we ate on this trip...oh, it might make you sick!)

Therese, trying to decide which of the chocolates looked the best.


This picture captures how we spent most of our time, enjoying wonderful food and company.

Pear digging out the goodies in her Christmas stocking on Christmas morning.

Pear at the piano on Christmas Eve at my parents' house.

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Pear with the baby doll from Mammy and Pappy on Christmas morning.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Black-Bottom Coconut Bars


I don't know where you've been this week but 99% of my time has been spent inside the house watching the snow fall more and more and trap me in my house longer and longer. Currently we have approximately 18 inches of snow outside. All of this to say that I have done more baking. I found this recipe for Black-Bottom Coconut Bars on marthastewart.com and thought I would give it a whirl. I gave it a whirl and it turned out quite tasty. It is not too sweet and is a wonderful change from the traditional brownie or cookie; a nice brownie base with a coconut macaroon on top. Stephen and I both agreed that we would make these again. If you enjoy coconut and chocolate, these are definitely worth your while.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Holiday Fun!

Pear and I made gingerbread houses today only not with gingerbread but with graham crackers. They were cheap, easy, and a lot of fun. I sure enjoy having a kid around the house, it gives me an excuse to do all of these fun things! I don't know if Pear enjoyed tasting all of the candy, (most of which she spit out after finding it took more chewing than she wished to do,) or actually decorating her gingerbread house.
This is an efficient, fun way to make gingerbread houses. Here's the recipe:


1 box of graham crackers - gently cut with serrated knife in shape of house
Assortment of candy to decorate
Icing:
2 egg whites -whip until stiff peaks form then add
4 cups powdered sugar
Juice from one lemon

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Bark


I have definitely been in the Christmas baking mood. I found this recipe on Martha Stewart and it looked super easy and yummy. I tried it out only substituting the peanuts for almonds and it turned out wonderfully! Stephen didn't think we would or should eat it all but it is dwindling down quite fast.

Snow

"Snow! Snow! Come out in the snow.
Snow! Snow! Just look at the snow!
Come out! Come out! Come out in the snow."
This is a paragraph from a much loved book in our household, Snow, by Roy McKie and PD Eastman.

It was snowing when we woke this morning and it continued without stopping. It has subsided a little now but we are expecting more through the night. We have around eight inches on the ground now. Pear and I ventured out this afternoon to make a snowman. Poor Pear didn't have snow bibs or mittens so we bundled her up in several layers of pants and she braved the snow with her bare hands. When we finished having fun outside, we came in and made hot cocoa and sat by the fireplace and read the above mentioned much loved book.Venturing out in the snow. Notice the one mitten? We found one baby mitten but we couldn't find the other and it wasn't meant to handle snow. It was soaked through within a couple of minutes.

Rolling and patting the snowman.

Pear, trying to put "Frosty's" carrot nose in place.

Pear and "Frosty".

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Nicks Doodle"


Pear loves Snickerdoodle Cookies. This morning she and I made a scrumptious batch. Stephen took some of them and shared them with his co-workers and we will eat the rest this evening with our hot cocoa while driving around looking at Christmas lights. (We'll see how long Jovie will let us do this as she still hates the car.)

Pear calls these cookies "nicks doodle" cookies. I think it both funny and cute the way she says it, so this morning I got a clip with her saying it. I also received a gorgeous smile from Jovie and thought this clip blogworthy.
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Jovie's Smile




Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas time is here!


I am definitely enjoying the season and taking advantage of being able to eat as many cookies as I want! Over the last two weeks I have made peanut-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, chocolate crackles, glazed butter cookies (shown above), and delicious chocolate chip cookies.The glazed butter cookie assortment.

Pear, decorating a couple cookies of her own. (And eating the "prinkles".)

Our beautiful Christmas tree.

Pear and Jovie

Libbi, Pear, Aspen and Taffi at the Bellevue Square Mall, doing some Christmas shopping.




Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Painting, painting and more painting...



Yes, that's the name of the game to complete our kitchen cabinets. It requires layers, and more layers of paint.

Stephen and I decided to give our cabinets a makeover by painting and distressing them. I am very happy with the results and can't wait to finish the rest of the cabinets!

This, by the way, has been a work in progress for the last two months. I feel like I paint during every spare moment I have!

stockings hung on a mantle


I have always wanted a mantle to hang Christmas stockings on. It just doesn't seem right to hang them anywhere else. Stephen knows this as I've expressed many times how I wished to have one.

Stephen and his dad made this over the last few weeks in their spare time, (as if either of them have any spare time,) just for me and our Christmas stockings! Isn't it gorgeous?

Pear's Christmas Moves:

Pear is thoroughly enjoying this "Chris-up" season. She had so much fun decorating and redecorating our Christmas tree. We have made Christmas cookies and have been listening to Christmas music. Here is a glimpse of Pear cutting loose to the Christmas music. If you can't tell, she is singing Frosty the Snowman in her own little way.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thank you, God, for Mothers.

My Mother, My Mother's Mother (Memee), Jovie, Me and Pear


Everyone always hears how thankful they'll be someday to have mothers, fathers, parents, etc. in their life. I have always been thankful but to what extent is the subject of matter here. As one of nine children, I have to realize that my mom did what I am doing now, (the sleepless nights, countless poopy diaper changes, nurturing the sick child, making meal after meal that goes uneaten by the picky eater, taking an hour to rock a baby to sleep only to have her wake after five minutes... the list goes on,) NINE times over. Granted, some babies are easier, others are harder, but I believe for the most part, the load carried is the same. Yes, I believe my mom is Wonder Woman. She blessed me and each of my siblings with life and not only life but with a mother that nurtured, cared for, listened to, sacrificed for and loved unconditionally. Thank you mom.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dark Chocolate Espresso Trifle



This Thanksgiving, I decided to concoct my own recipe for a luscious dessert. I had made this dessert over a year ago and it was delicious, this time I revamped it a little and I believe it turned out even better.

For the Dark Chocolate Cake Layers:

3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cocoa powdered
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition.
3. Measure the flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, and espresso powder into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure the milk and vanilla into a measuring thing.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Divide batter into two 9" cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

For the Espresso Pastry Cream Layers:
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch table salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1.Heat half-and-half, 6 tablespoons sugar, and salt in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.
2.Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until sugar has begun to dissolve and mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in cornstarch until combined and mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
3. When half-and-half mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk simmering half-and-half into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, scraping bowl with rubber spatula; return to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in butter, vanilla and espresso powder. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and let cool in ice bath, stirring occasionally. (I also poured my pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve to ensure a creamier texture.)

For Sweetened Whipped Cream Layer:
1 pint whipping cream
Powdered sugar to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

For Bittersweet Chocolate curls:
1 bar bittersweet chocolate

Let sit in warm place for 30-60 minutes. With vegetable peeler, slide along the bar lengthwise to make nice chocolate curls.

To Assemble, trim cake to fit your trifle dish. Layer cake, pastry cream, whipped cream and then repeat. Finish by sprinkling Chocolate curls. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My girls as I see them:



Pear is 21 months old. I continue to be blessed daily by her presence. She makes me laugh daily. She can count to 10 now and knows some of her colors. If she does not know what color it is, she'll say that it's pink. Here are a few things she's said over the last few days that have brought me joy:

While driving through town over the weekend I told Stephen, "you're a crazy driver." About 10 minutes later, after taking a turn Pear exclaims, "dad, crazy driver!"

Today, Jovie was crying in the car on our way home. Pear began to get fidgety as she always does when Jovie cries. I said, "it's okay, she's just hungry." Pear said, "mom, feed her scooby snacks!" (When Stephen gets Pear a snack or a treat, he calls it "Scooby snacks".)

Pear was eating a cupcake the other day and blurted out, "It's so tasty too!" Repeating the lines from one of my favorite I Love Lucy episodes: Lucy Does a Television Commercial.

Yesterday, while getting ready for her nap, Pear walked over to me and whined, "grumpy, how come?" In all sincerity, she was talking about herself. She was grumpy and ready for a nap.

Last night, Stephen let me get out of the house for a little bit, when I returned I asked how the girls were, he said that they were great. Pear ran over to me and said, "horses, daddy's game." I interpreted this and returned, "oh, you played daddy's computer game with daddy that has the horses." Stephen quickly said, "shhh! You're not supposed to tell her!"

Today, Pear bumped her leg on her bed. She began whining and said, "Bonk, leg. You okay? Ooooh, come here. Show me." I guess she decided she doesn't need to come to me for sympathy, she'll do it all herself!

As for Jovie, she is 4 weeks old now and she hasn't made me laugh yet, but she makes me smile constantly and I will admit she has made me cry. It's been a tough couple of weeks; rewarding, priceless, and oh so tiresome. Jovie doesn't sleep. Let me rephrase that, she doesn't sleep by herself. If you hold her, she'll doze in and out of sleep for as long as 45 minutes! And, if you're lucky, she'll go into a deep sleep state where it's hard to wake her up and that can last as long as 2 1/2 hours but that is few and far between. We are working on training her little body to sleep but it's not an easy task with a noisy 21 month old following and narrating my every move at a 21 month old volume. When I do lay Jovie down for a nap and she wakes up, Pear tries to beat me into the bedroom to climb on the crib and look over the rail to comfort her by saying, "it's okay Jovie." At night Jovie will sleep some. I got a 4 hour stretch last night! That was marvelous. Jovie began smiling this last week. It's so sweet. I am still soaking up the newborn stage and I can hold her for hours just looking at her without tiring. I seem to be getting farther and farther behind with my housework but I am choosing to soak in and enjoy this time rather than stress-out and worry about housework. Don't get me wrong, I am still doing housework but I am trying to spend some quality time with my girls rather than constantly clean which seems to be what needs to be done in order to have a clean house with a family like ours that cooks a lot, makes a lot of laundry and a baby that is constantly spitting up!

Jovie's "happy look".

A Pretty Smile!

This is Jovie's face the majority of the time.

This is Jovie's face the other majority of the time.

Aren't those beautiful blue eyes?

Just checking things out.

Yes, I am proud of my girls. And yes, I love them ever so much!