Thursday, November 30, 2006
Three favorite holiday recipes
(1) The Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins ~ now "my" baked good. Everyone should have a recipe that is theirs, that they have made so much that they almost have the recipe memorized, that when it shows up at a potluck everyone knows, "Oh, those must be Sheila's muffins! Yummy!"
(2) StrawberryJelloPretzelSalad ~ the dish that causes much distress with my brother-in-law, who insists something this sweet and without any lettuce cannot be called a salad and is really a dessert. (Sorry Dre!) When I make this for a potluck, it's gone. Gone. There are just sad little bits of broken pretzels in the bottom of the pan.
(3) Spritz Cookies ~ Another family classic. There are two signs that the holidays are here. One is the beginning of the decorating of the house. The other is the making of the first batch of spritz cookies. I usually call my mom or my sister (or both!) when I'm baking them. My friend Summer likes them so much that when her daughter was born in December, she didn't care what meal I made for her as long as I brought a batch of these cookies.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter*
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
(you can put food coloring in the dough, too)
Sift dry ingredients, Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg and extract (and food coloring). Add dry ingredients. Dough will be firm. Fill cookie press and form cookies on ungreased cookie sheets**. Decorate with tiny candies or colored sugars. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cookies are done when the edges turn slightly brown. Remove to cooling racks. (Makes 6-8 dozen, depending on your cookie press.)
*Butter should be room temperature or softened in the microwave. Melted butter does not work. Too soft butter does not work. The room-temperature butter makes the cookies come out of the press the right way. My mom's recipe says that you can use margarine, but I think butter gives the best consistency and taste.
**While I am a big fan of parchment paper, I found that these cookies do not stick to it. A cool, clean cookie sheet is the only way to go. Clean off the cookie sheet with a cold wet paper towel and let it cool before putting more cookies on it. They won't stick if it's too hot and you'll be a very frustrated baker.
From the recipe box of Sheila Chew from Musings of a Mommy
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
The girls had silk (?) flower petals in their baskets, and they practiced throwing them around.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
We started off Thanksgiving Day bright and early with a seven hour drive to my sister's house. We had lots of fun hanging out with my sister, brother-in-law, two nephews, and my mom and dad. My sister outdid herself with a huge meal and two desserts. Thanks again, Joy! The kids loved playing in the sandbox and treehouse and jumping on the trampoline.
Then we were off to Stu's family's house, where we celebrated his step-father's birthday with a fun surprise birthday dinner. Happy Birthday, Ken! All of the kids and grandkids were there, so it was great to see everybody. Samuel got hold of my camera after dinner and took several pictures of the table. He's got talent. (Photos to come!)
On Saturday, we went to Stu's cousin's wedding. Sally and Samuel were in the wedding, and they did a terrific job. Looked cute, too. The reception was a traditional Chinese wedding banquet, with the dancing lions and everything. The food was excellent. (Blogger isn't letting me put up any photos, so I'll post those later.)
On Sunday, we didn't really know what to do with ourselves. Since we were in Oakland, we thought about going to San Francisco for the day. However, it was raining and supposed to rain all day. Instead, we decided to go to Santa Cruz and take the kids to the boardwalk. We used to go to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk when we were in high school, and it was almost exactly the way I remembered it. Although we didn't go on any rides, because it started to rain there too, we did play some video games and buy some salt water taffy. You can't go to the boardwalk and not get some salt water taffy. They were also making fresh taffy and we watched the pulling machine for several minutes. So fun!
Since it was raining, we decided to keep on going down to Monterey for dinner and spend the night there. Let me tell you, I think I'm in love with Monterey. We had dinner at Old Fisherman's Grotto, right on Fisherman's Wharf, and I had the best clam chowder ever. I tried a new fish, too - I can't remember what it is called, but it was a local fish and very good. (I'm not much of a try new fish person, especially when macademia crusted halibut is on the menu.) Then we drove around, and we were looking for a specific store but we had left the address in our hotel room. Would you believe it if I told you that my husband drove around and found it? He did. I think I'll turn here, this looks good, and HEY! there it is! Pretty amazing.
Well, I've got to go fold that last load of laundry, and then I'm going to reorganize my yarn stash. My mom bought me some yarn at a big sale she found when her and my dad went to Iowa, and I've got some Moonlight Mohair and some Magic Stripes and some more Sugar n Cream because I'm knitting up dishcloths like crazy. Thanks, Mom!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
a new Three Things Thursday Theme! ~ the month of December will be "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Tell us your holiday memories, favorite holiday recipes, your family traditions, favorite decorations, or three wise men in your life. Fun!
family photos ~ we'll be seeing lots of family over the next few days, and I'll get some pics for the blog (and you know that means some fun stories for the blog, too)
a knitting update ~ I have a few projects that I'm finishing up and I'll tell you all about them
a long overdue story ~ now that the drama is over, I think I'm in the clear to blog about it
and something to enjoy right now ~ a new link! Check out the Parris Studios (this link will be on the sidebar soon, but blogger didn't like me yesterday)
So have a great holiday. Make some pumpkin muffins for a loved one. Take some time to be thankful for all the wonderful people in your life. If there are kids around, ask them to make you a fort and then take a nap in it. You won't be sorry. BYE!
Monday, November 20, 2006
Yummy fresh warm bread ~ The kids made a fort yesterday and insisted that I go in and try it out. They had a pillow and a blanket for me and everything. I snuggled down with Samuel, who sighed and said, "I wuv you Mommy." Then he told me, in great detail, how he and Sally were equipped with nail guns and lots of nails to shoot the bad monsters that were outside. "We're just tending," he whispered to me. Sally was sitting on the other side, drawing a picture of a princess and a king. I woke up thirty minutes later, and I was alone. They left me in there and went to play computer games together. As I lay there, struggling to clear my head and wake up, I could hear them laughing. It was a great moment.
Friday, November 17, 2006
This is one of my favorites. It has to be from early in 2004 because Samuel is around one year old. I love how Sally looks with all of her teeth, posing for the camera, and how Samuel is looking away but you can tell that he is laughing. Excellent kids.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
Misery ~ I have decided that I am anti-door-to-door sales. From now on, anyone who comes to my door will be met with a smile and a simple "I do not buy anything from strangers who come to my door" (with the exception of children selling cookies or cookie dough - I'll buy that). Additionally, I am against pyramid schemes and chain letters of any kind. I am done feeling sorry, guilty, or fearful of hurting people's feelings.
Joy ~ Our church had a potluck last night, and it made me very happy to play two rounds of a fun card game called Schnap (I am unsure of the spelling, but this has to be close). It is a fun game that requires you to yell things at the other players. I like to play cards tough, but I'm all talk. I found a fun group of people who play like me, and we had a great time. My kids entertained themselves (and several other adults) and did not bug me once while I played. Oh, and Jessica's yam (or was it sweet potato?) brown sugar dish was so very tasty. Thanks, Jessica!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
This weekend I cast on for a black little wrap using really big needles so that the fabric is holey and breezy. I'm using a fuzzy mohair yarn that is dreamy. Anyway, since the needles are big and the yarn is easy to work, I thought I'd try the picking thing again. Guess what? My hands finally got it. I started slow, but then picked up speed and whammo! I was a knitting speedster, stitches flying off the needles. It was a magical moment. My only regret is that I don't have anyone around here to show, so I'm again accosting my family and saying, "Look! Look! I'm doing it!" and they are confused because, to them, knitting is knitting and it doesn't look any different. "Yeah, great . . . ." they tell me. But let me tell you - that moment where it all comes together and your fingers just know what to do and they do it . . . . it's pure knitting magic.
Friday, November 10, 2006
And now for the more important part - the modified recipe to handle the big can of pumpkin! This is perfect for me because (a) my grocery keeps running out of the small can and all I can get is the big one and (b) my kids stopped liking the cream cheese part and are crying for plain muffins. Enjoy!
Almost-Like-Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Recipe by Sheila at musings of a mommy.blogspot.com
**BIG PUMPKIN CAN (29 oz) VERSION***
4 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 ½ tsp nutmeg
1 ½ tsp ground cloves
5-6 tsp pumpkin pie spice
Generous pinch of cardamom (optional)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp soda
3 cups sugar
3 cups cooked or canned pumpkin (29 oz can)
2 cups vegetable oil
8 oz package cream cheese
Chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans) (optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients together except cream cheese and nuts. Fill muffin tins (greased or paper cups) half full. Put 1-2 tsp cream cheese in the middle, pressing down. Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped nuts. Bake at 350 for 20-25* minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean from the muffin part (do not touch the cream cheese!). Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Do not touch the cream cheese until it cools, as it is very very hot. Makes 24 regular size muffins with cream cheese and 24 mini muffins* without cream cheese.
*The mini muffins are usually done in 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven and if you bake everything all at once. Check with a toothpick and remove as soon as they are done in the middle.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
(1) Samuel is doing very well at preschool. He had a little reluctance at the drop-off time for a few weeks, but I figured out it was mostly a show. That's right - a show for the girls, who respond to his shy sadness as quick as dogs respond to people who hate dogs. (Translation: they are all over him.) He is talking up a storm, learning new songs, making friends, and loving the weekly library book deal.
(2) Yesterday, while walking Sally to school, Samuel counted for me: "One, Two, Free, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, 'Leven, Twelve, Firteen, Fourteen, Nineteen, Twenty-Free, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Nine, BLASTOFF!"
(3) Samuel told me this today after school: "I played in the sandbox with my friends, and I ate my sandwich but not all my water but I saved the bottle, and I ate all my chips but not two because I gave two to Miss J." Aw, couldn't you just eat him up?
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
It started on Monday, the day after I finished my wool gloves, the day that the temperatures soared to the 90s. In November. It was a sad twist of fate that I could not wear the beautiful gloves because I had to come home and change into shorts and a t-shirt.
It continued on Tuesday when I had a coffee and a long chat with my friend. She told me about her recent trip to the East coast, where her husband fell in love with a house that had a workshop/garage connected to the house by a long enclosed walkway. The enclosed walkway is necessary because of all the snow. People regularly get snowed in for days, weeks, at a time. They usually do not leave their houses. The idea of being holed up in a house for days on end does not appeal to my friend. It sounds perfectly lovely to me.
Now, you snow people, don't send me nasty comments about how the reality of lots and lots of snow being really no fun. I know that. I used to live in Iowa. Snow is beautiful for about a day, and then it turns into grey sludge. Snow days are actually pretty rare, and usually you have to bundle up and leave the house for school, work, and groceries. I do know that. Shoveling snow is hard work, and driving on icy roads is a horrible experience that I do not want to revisit. I know all that. However, living where I do, and having November being so NOT cold, I think a little snow daydreaming is acceptable.
Do you remember the ending scene of Minority Report? I'm not too fond of the movie, but I do love the end where the three precogs (the psychics) are in a safe house and they are finally reading books. There are books everywhere, and there is a fire in the fireplace because it is very cold outside, and they aren't talking to each other. They are just sitting around and reading. I love that scene.
Snow. I just can't get it out of my head today.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Cripes. It bugs me every single time.
Don't forget to vote!
Monday, November 06, 2006
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Handing out a gold star to Blogger Sherry at Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mom for posting the most suggestions for me (and a numbered list at that - she really knows what I like!).
Uncle Jon gets a gold star, too, for the fast photo shop save on the wardrobe malfunction. Ahh, if only Uncle Jon had a blog. What fun we would have!
Here they are: the start of the knucks. The one on the left has the fingers attached, and the others are being prepaired to be knitted together. I keep stalking my husband and making him look at them, begging him to tell me they are just great. Poor guy. He's a good sport, though, except he keeps yelling cautionary suggestions to the children: "Stay away from mommy's sticks of death!" Yeah, I know, you totally wish you could live here too.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
(1) Be quiet. I am naturally an introvert, so I need time alone to recharge. I find that getting away to a quiet place helps me more than anything. The park, the library, my local coffee shop - doesn't really matter where, just so long as I'm by myself.
(2) Laugh. It really is the best medicine, you know. Romantic comedies are nice, but so are the pure comedies, especially if it is in bad taste. (I have very low standards when it comes to movies. Don't ask me if I like it, because 98% of the time I'll say yes. We recently watched Just Friends and I almost fell off the bed laughing so hard.)
(3) Count my blessings. It's trite, but it works. I ususally start with the physical comforts of my nice middle class American life, and then move on to the wonderful people who are my family and my friends, and end up thanking God for His protection, guidance, and multitude of blessings.
Attention TTT players! We need some new categories. Something different, something crazy. Suggestions please!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Sally: "I am ready!"
Me: "Did you brush your teeth?"
Me: "Did you go potty?"
Sally: "Uh . . . ."
Me: "Please go potty. Samuel! Please put your socks and shoes on!"
(I finish making the lunches, start a load of laundry, and put the dishes in the sink)
Samuel: "Ahhhhh! Saaaa-weeee! Gimme back my bracewet!"
Me: "Son, can't Sally wear the pink bracelet you got yesterday? It's for girls."
(note: Using logic with a three year old was a mistake. I see that now.)
Samuel: "No. It's mine."
Me: "You can't share with your sister?"
Me: (getting frustrated) "Fine. Give him back his bracelet. Samuel, because you can't share, you are not allowed in Sally's room today. Sally, please let me know if he is in your room so I can punish him. Are you ready for school?"
Sally: "Yes Mom."
Me: "Good. Samuel, where are your shoes? Put your shoes on - NOW."
Samuel: "Oh KAY."
(I finish getting myself ready, check Sally's backpack, and hear them fighting again.)
Me: "Now what?"
Samuel: "Saawee is in my room and blah blah blah"
(I start tuning him out because my eye begins to twitch)
Me: "Sally, stay out of his room. Samuel, why are your shoes still not on? You are making me crazy! Sit on your bed NOW."
(I find his socks and shoes and put them on him because, by now, we should be out the door.)
Samuel: "Mom . . . . . Mom, whoever . . . . . . . Mom, whoever . . . . . . Mom, whoever eats the coconut sandwich first wins, kay?"