Thursday, December 31, 2009

Some of My Favorite Moments of the Year...



Happy New Year to you and yours!
May 2010 be filled with an abundance of love!



Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Not the Typical Childhood Hero




My son loves all the typical boy characters- transformers, Disney's Cars characters, Handy Manny, Super Why... all the shows that sell action figures in department stores. However, his longest running and greatest hero is THE NUTCRACKER. From the time that Big Sister showed him Barbie and the Nutcracker, Little Mister has adored the story. From the showdown between the mice and the toy soldiers to the gentlemanly care that Nutcracker takes with Clara, my little boy doesn't miss a beat. He begs Big Sister to play the part of Clara and asks her with a great bow, "May I have this dance?" You will not find this boy play fighting as a G.I. Joe or the like. Instead, he can be found, "sword" in hand, warding off a make-believe mouse.
This year, MY favorite christmas present was from my big sister. It did not cost her a dime but it was invaluable to Little Mister and I. Aunt J gave us 2 tickets to watch the St. Louis Ballet perform The Nutcracker. She'd received them from an event that she attended.

When I asked him if he's like to watch the ballet on stage, Little Mister told me yes, "but don't say it's a date, Mom."

On the night of the performance, we arrived at the performing arts center and picked out ornaments to take back to the girls, met a couple mice who were greeting the kids, and found our amazing seats! I knew one of two things would happen when the curtain opened. Either he'd be completely amazed or he'd be throwing a fit and demanding that this was NOT the real Nutcracker! Praise the Lord, he was enthralled. He sat, motionless, on the edge of his seat for the entire first act, whispering to me what was happening as the ballet progressed. I was impressed that he was able to follow the plot so easily!

After the final curtain call, Little Mister got to meet Clara and Nutcracker.



I must've shown him a pretty good time, because on the way home, he said, "Mommy, will you be my date again someday?" Ah... Heaven to my heart!





Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: December 28th





For Today... December 28th, 2009

Outside my window... The trucks are already heading down the road to work on the remodel and new construction homes past ours. It makes me feel a bit lazy to be typing in the midst of our unfinished house, but a string of to-do's waits with good intentions for today!

From the kitchen... I bought groceries for the first time in two weeks last night. And by that I mean I bought a box of Honey Nut Cherrios and milk. The cupboards are bare! E-Mealz will be making hubby happy this week with loaded nachos and creamy garlic chicken on the menu!

I am wearing... Grey yoga pants, purple Crocs, and a bright yellow-orange chili cook-off shirt.

From the Learning Rooms... Second semester plans are in the works. Hopefully I'll fit in a few more field trips in the next few months. With the Magic House family membership that my big sister gave us for Christmas, I'm hoping to scope out their events and make it to a few!

I am creating... a mental pro/con list trying to decide exactly how busy with my own projects I want to be this year. I'm afraid that serving as bridesmaid in two weddings this year might swamp my creative resources.

I am praying... for a happy and safe visit for Big Sister who is with her dad for the week.

Around the house... We have a welcomed addition to the foyer-- a LIGHT! Hubby installed it, and it looks GREAT! Finally, our guests will be able to see when they come in at night... even it the porch lights still don't let them see the way back to their cars!

One of my favorite things... the Starbuck's gift card from my big brother. My trips to the city are going to be slightly less guilt-ridden in the coming months thanks to him!

A few plans for the rest of the week... New Year's Eve with my family, the $1 party poppers I picked up, and a board game or two. Perhaps a trip to Costco and to return a few items.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...


My family before Christmas Eve Mass

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Memory


Christmas 2007... my dad and Little Mister singing Grandpa's favorite Christmas song. I can remember many my dad playing here on many Christmas Eves after Mass. I JUST realized he was singing a Christmas song this year... after decades of hearing it!

Thanks for stopping by,

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home for Christmas

As I sit here in this house that holds so many of memories, I remember the men in the family (my grandpa, dad and uncles) sitting around the oblong kitchen table debating this and that along the political spectrum. You see, the men in my family are rare gems. Opinionated and stubborn as they come, they are real softies at heart. As a child, I loved to spend time around their playful silliness, and as an adult, I've loved to watch my own children to bask in the fun of them all.

Growing up, my Uncle Chuck, the oldest of the bunch, always stood out from the rest. To the 8-year-old me, he seemed more responsible than the rest of the goofy guys. He dressed in suits at Christmas, was more careful with his words (at least around us kids), and seemed to listen with more ease than the rest of the bunch. While I loved the silly teasing that came from the men at family gatherings, when my Uncle Chuck talked to me, he asked more questions and waited to hear the answers. Watching him and his wife over the years was a true inspiration for me. They seemed SO perfect for each other, complimenting the other's personality and always seeming to genuinely enjoy each other and enjoy life together. I always hoped for such a happy marriage.

Uncle Chuck passed away yesterday after a valiant fight against cancer. I had been talking to my mother earlier in the day (when we knew things were grim) about how many people seem to be called Home during the Advent season: my grandmother, my husband's great-grandmother and cousin, and now my uncle. While this time of year will always be bittersweet to those of us who love and miss them, it is truly a special time to join Our Savior. It brings a new meaning to the words "I'll be Home for Christmas!"

Gotta Love...

when ex-husband comes to pick up Big Sister, and Little Mister runs outside after her, in a shirt and his underwear.... and my bra around his neck.

It COULDN'T have been that black lacy one... oh no! Little Mister HAD to steal the oldest one in my collection.

Nope. Nothing to miss here!

Note To Self...

It is NOT easier or cheaper to bake cookies as gifts for the teacher types- school teachers, religion teachers, extracurricular teachers, and coworkers...

It is, in fact, faster to make a trip to a mall and cheaper to find a gift (the ones that get used up rather than the ones that hang around collecting dust forever) than to spend many hours baking hundreds of cookies.

However, if ever found in this situations again, try wearing gaudy christmas earings, playing christmas music and sipping hot chocolate on day ONE instead of day THREE!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Prayer to Saint Peregrine

Prayer to Saint Peregrine

O great St. Peregrine, you have been called "The Mighty," "The Wonder-Worker," because of the numerous miracles which you have obtained from God for those who have had recourse to you.

For so many years you bore in your own flesh this cancerous disease that destroys the very fibre of our being, and who had recourse to the source of all grace when the power of man could do no more. You were favoured with the vision of Jesus coming down from His Cross to heal your affliction. Ask of God and Our Lady, the cure of the sick whom we entrust to you, especially Chuck Stack.
Aided in this way by your powerful intercession, we shall sing to God, now and for all eternity, a song of gratitude for His great goodness and mercy.

Amen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baby Shower Train Cake




I whipped this up today for Big Sister's math teacher's baby shower. The request was for a train cake to match pastel blue, green, and beige decorations. I really enjoyed being able to provide the cake. In fourth grade, there aren't an overabundance of opportunities to get involved and connect with the teachers!

This cake was very simple and started with 2-layer 8 inch and 6 inch round, chocolate cakes. I used beige buttercream icing between the layers and on the cakes, blue and green buttercream in decorating bags for trim.

I made the train a couple days ahead of time from tinted fondant. I cut out the base shape, added the accent pieces and lightly rolled over them to smash the two layers together a bit. The large end of a decorating tip shaped my wheels.

At first, I piped my wording onto the top of the cake, but I wasn't happy with the way it turned out. Rather than mess with scraping and re-smoothing, I opted to add a fondant circle with my wording. I added a rope of contrasting fondant to trim the circle, and I was finished!



Thanks for stopping by,

Holiday Giveaway Reminder!



Tomorrow is the final day to submit your entries for a chance to win 100 Personalized Mommy Contact Cards from Itsy Bitsy Smiles. Be sure to post your comments by 11:59 Central Time!




Best of Luck,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Brr!

Peppermint Schnapps and Hot Cocoa

Snuggling in with Hubby, a fire, and a movie

Doesn't get much better on a 16 degree night!

Friday, December 4, 2009

O Christmas Tree

Ugh.
Tonight
I took down
our Christmas tree.
Perhaps we'll put it up
again.......... in a few days.
When the crazies calm down.
And stop yanking off decorations.
When they decide that the topper is
Not a target for a paper airplane, ball
or pillow.
I hope....


Mommy Cards: A Holiday Giveaway


The Christmas season makes me a little overly ambitious. I tend to start with a humongous wish list of activities to do with the kids, stores I want to shop, date nights I plan to take with my husband, and events to attend as a family. More often than not, school lets out for break, and before I know it, it's Christmas Eve, and I've done good to get my shopping done online and bake a batch of candy cane cookies for Santa.

THIS year, I decided to throw my expectations to the wind and wing it. Short of my Advent devotions, I'm allowing myself to do whatever seasonal activity comes to mind each day. Today, I decided to give a Christmas present to one of my readers in the form of a...

HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY!

I'm crazy-excited about this one. Really. I've been eyeing and researching these things for months, requesting samples, just waiting for a good time to kick off the entries!

Mommy Cards are the trendiest way to network with other moms (at least that's my croc-wearing opinion)! I love the thought of pulling one out of my Coach purse as I'm pushing my kid on a swing, wearing JimmyChoo heels and sipping my nonfat blah blah blah...

Even though I'm more likely to be found chasing my runaway child while wearing flips and dying of thirst because I didn't have an extra hand for my Diet Dr. Pepper, I can still stash a couple Mommy Cards in the pocket of my $5 clearance purse, and they're really handy to pass off to teachers, birthday party hostesses, club leaders, or anyone else who might not have your contact information on hand when you entrust your offspring to them!

Itsy Bitsy Smiles has a simply adorable selection of double-sided Mommy Cards at a price more reasonable than other comparable companies. Check out the site! My personal favorites are "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "Poodle Skirt" (love the emergency contacts on the backside!).

Itsy Bitsy Smiles Photo Announcements and Invitations

The site also features birth announcements, invitations, and greeting cards, all equally adorable! And if you don't see what you were searching for, they'll create a custom design just for you!

For this HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY, one reader will receive 100 personalized Mommy Cards from Itsy Bitsy Smiles in a design of her choice!



To Enter: Browse through Itsy Bitsy Smiles' Mommy Card selection and leave a comment sharing your favorite design!

Don't Stop There! Take advantage of these opportunities for extra entries:

1 Entry: Follow my blog by adding yourself to the group on my right hand sidebar, and leave a comment letting me know that you follow me.

2 Entries: Blog about this holiday giveaway, and leave a comment letting me know where to find your blog!

1 Entry: Link to Mammalog from your blog, and (yep- you guessed it) don't forget to leave a comment and let me know!

** Please leave a valid email address for contact purposes!

Deadline for entries: Thursday, December 11th 11:59 PM CST

The winner will be chosen using random.org and will be notified by email. A response is required within 3 days or the prize will be awarded to another participant.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Miscellaneous Catch-ups

Lots of randomness today...

Hubby is working on a secret project... one that will hopefully turn into a fun new tool for myself and all my fellow bloggers!

We found one, very small opening in our facia on the outside of our house... and I think there might be a squirrel attempting to store his goodies in the roof of our porch. Grr...

In my efforts to spend less this year, I've gotten myself roped into... oh... about 80 hours of work for my siblings gifts. I'd spill the secret, but my little sis is an occasional visitor here.

I finally upgraded my cell phone today! My Samsung Magnet should be here next week to save my friendships, business calls, and family ties from the annoyance of loosing power at random moments.

I decorated for Christmas! I did way more that I had intended this year... which still isn't much. While I stuck to my plan of NOT decorating our house-wrapped exterior, I did end up adding mantle decor and my nativity to the original plan of just the tree. An unexpected effect: you can hardly tell that the finished wood of the mantle isn't installed yet!

I'm feeling a bit guilty for never sending Christmas cards... but not quite guilty enough to get my act together on that! Plus, my brilliant plan to buy the kids matching outfits on 90% off clearance last year bombed. I bought green plaid skirts for the girls and a matching shirt and vest for Little Mister. Unfortunately, 6 hours and 3 returns later, I finally gave up the search for shirts to match the skirts...

I'm amazed that 15 pounds isn't more dramatically lost. :-) Maybe 30 will be...




Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ballerina Pointe Shoe Cake and Buttercream Icing Recipe

Little Miss celebrated her SECOND birthday last week! As I was decorating these cakes, I kept double checking myself to be sure that this really was #2. Hard to believe-- but then, I'm getting used to time flying.

Anyway... I used huge hunks of fondant, flavored with almond extract and dyed pink, for the main pointe shoes. Using my old pair as a model, I basically rolled each piece into a log and formed them into shoes, added the ties and the ribbons. A 2 layer, 8 inch square cake served as the base for the large pointe shoes, and my mini pans (5" and 4") created my mini tier cakes for Little Miss and her little cousin. I topped each mini cake with a pair of tiny pointe shoes, added buttercream ribbons and trim, and we were ready for the family!



Sometimes I have people ask me what the secret is to my icing, but it's so very simple!

Buttercream Icing

2 Pounds Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar
2 Cups Crisco shortening (this brand seems to allow for a truer color and consistency)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (depending on which I want to smell while I'm decorating!)

Add Crisco and confectioners sugar to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer on low, combine the 2, being careful not to create an explosion of powdered sugar. Add milk and extract. Mix until creamy. Scrape sides of bowl, and mix for another 2 minutes. This is the consistency I use with icing tips. To ice my cakes, I add 1/8 cup milk to the bowl and mix until well blended. The creamier consistency allows for a smoother finish on my cakes and helps avoid picking up cake crumbs into the icing.
One batch makes enough to cover a single layer 9x13 cake or a 2 layer 8-10 inch round cake


Thanks for stopping by,


Monday, November 30, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: December 21st




For Today... December 21st, 2009

Outside my window... Grey sky and barren branches highlighted with the snow left from last week.

From the kitchen... The last batches of Christmas cookies wait. No Bake Cookies and Classic Sugar cookies. I've already made Candy Cane Cookies, Chocolate Pistachio Bow Ties, dipped Pretzel Rods, Gingerbread Men, and Andes Creme De Menthe Cookies.

I am wearing... Black hoodie and grey sweats. It's Christmas break around here... no need to get dressed until we need to leave the house, right???

From the Learning Rooms... Just a few art projects to give as gifts this week and the normal educational play, learning games, and reading. Hopefully we'll make it to Story Hour tomorrow to see Santa!

I am creating... The last of my Christmas letters. The funeral over the weekend changed the schedule around here a bit.

I am praying... For an Advent full of peace, especially for my aunt who sent her husband Home after his long battle with Cancer.

Around the house... Everything was ship-shape a few days ago. As usual, clutter is already begging attention. Storage would be nice someday! Closets void of shelving and doors aren't much help for this housekeeper!

One of my favorite things... watching the kids explore the gifts under the tree. Little Miss unwrapped two before she learned her lesson. Now it's just lots of shaking, guessing, and anticipating.

A few plans for the rest of the week... Christmas festivities and the traditional Serendipity viewing with my little sis!

(allmoviephoto.com)


Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Hubby's office Christmas party had a photo booth- that didn't warn you before it took the pictures!


Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!



Have a truly blessed Holiday,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Here's Ginger!


Who says bridesmaid dresses can't be reused? Oh, yeah. Me! Today, however, Big Sister proved me wrong! She had a school assignment to dress up like a famous Missourian, and she was assigned Ginger Rogers. We looked for dance costumes, casual clothes circa 1930's and 40's, and finally settled on the most fun- Hollywood movie star. Lucky for me, I'd wanted bridesmaids dresses inspired my the 30's and 40's, and my sister's was still hanging in the closet at my mother's house! A quick hem with No Sew, a few safety pins, and finger waves created by my talented mamma, we had a Ginger look-a-like.


Big Sister was pretty resistant to getting up early to get ready and declared that she was glad that her dream wasn't to become a real movie star. But thirty minutes later, she was pretty tickled with the result of our efforts. She said she didn't recognize herself (although her brace-worthy teeth should have given her away)!
At my wedding, Big Sister, 5 years old, shaking it with MY big sister!





Ginger Rogers- the picture that convinced Big Sister that we were on the right track!



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reflection

Do you ever wonder where you'd be in your life were it not for [fill in the blank]? I am fully aware that the very line of thought negates the "bloom where you're planted"/"Seize the Day" mentality that I typically try to keep. Seriously, though, I cannot be the only satisfied girl on the planet who reminisces about where she was ten years ago and looks forward to where she'll be ten years later.

The thing I've noticed lately is that when I think about what was and is to come, I never find myself wondering what life would be like without my husband. I think about what we'd be like if we'd successfully put off having kids for a few years, I think about what we'd be like if we'd never had any at all, I think about what we might be like with a few more and what life will be like when we finally get to experience being married without kids in the house. Sometimes I wonder what we'd be doing had we managed our finances properly as young single adults or what we'll do in five years when we've recuperated. I wonder what my appearance would be like had I not had more children, what it will be like when I'm able to exercise without children underfoot. I used to reminisce about myself, but now, instead of "What would my life have been like if...?" I wonder what OUR life would have been like if... or what it will be like when...

I used to think that five years of marriage would bring a routine, a constant, a general feeling of having the hang of it. But as we're living year number five, I'm realizing how much we're learning... about ourselves, about each other, about marriage. And the more I learn, the more I realize how little we know. I am SO excited to find out what marriage is like 10, 25, 50 years in. Because, so far, I still feel like I'm playing house a lot of the time. I feel excited about building a future with a wonderful man, and I'm having a blast living as his wife.

I can't imagine where I'd be had I not discovered what marriage should really be like... had I remained trapped by the high school girl naivety about finding self worth in men. I have to admit, when it comes to raising my daughters to be strong, traditional, Godly, and feminine, I'm groping around in the dark a lot of the time. Some days I find myself praying before each sentence I speak to Big Sister. Though we come with our share of faults and weaknesses, it's comforting to know that God has provided a healthy marriage for my daughters to witness, one that sets an example of how preciously she deserves to be treated should she be called to the vocation of marriage. And I thank God every day that Little Mister is watching his Daddy be a dedicated, loving, strong father and husband.


Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: November 16th




For Today... November 16th, 2009

Outside my window... Grey. Cold. One of those mornings that makes crawling out of bed a drudgery.

From the kitchen... Crock Pot Chicken, Cheeseburger Soup, Roast, Tilapia...

I am wearing... Green PJ pants and a brown T.

From the Learning Rooms... After being gone all weekend and not yet readjusted and rested from the VERY full and fun road trip with my little sis, I haven't even begun to plan our lessons. I did, however, pass cotton fields while in California. Little Sis and I stopped and collected some that had blown onto the roadside. I plan to use this natural cotton to teach about the cotton gin.

I am creating... Photographs and Christmas presents!

I am praying... For energy! I'm still dragging SO much!

Around the house... Hubby did a pretty good job of keeping the house clean while I was gone. He left the laundry for me to do (probably a smart decision), so that's what I'll be up to today and tomorrow!

One of my favorite things... being greeted at the airport gates by my husband and kids!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Preschool, Photography, the usual!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

My first sunset over the ocean!


Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!



Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'm in the midst of California prep, but I couldn't wait until next week to share Little Miss' birthday shoot! We snapped pictures off and on for two days, waiting for the little stinker to feel cooperative.... one of the perks to having studio gear on hand! If the process of capturing these is any indication of what the next year holds, I'm bracing myself!





Monday, November 9, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: November 9th






For Today... November 9th, 2009

Outside my window... The old cedars at the edge of the yard are the only surviving green.

From the kitchen... Our first week of E-Mealz! Last night we had beefy nachos and cucumber and onion salad. For the rest of the week: Stove Top Shrimp and Sausage, Santa Fe Soup, Spaghetti, Chicken and Dumplings, and Tuna Casserole.

I am wearing... A purple tunic top and grey sweats.

From the Learning Rooms... Our pirate day was a HIT last week! It was the first day that Little Mister hasn't been squirrely in weeks. This week is more of the same- reading skills, patterns, and basic addition and subtraction. We're getting better at addition and subtraction, but any pattern beyond "abababa" is still tough!

I am creating... Freezable meals to feed the gang while I'm away later this week! California, here I come!

I am praying... For my husband, that he may continue to be the strong provider that he has been thus far, and that I may find new ways to show him that I appreciate his dedication to his family and career. I pray that 25 years from now, he can look back on the years gone by and remember me as an ever supportive wife who strengthened his career simply by believing in him.

Around the house... Photography gear has consumed the family room. I took a few sample shots of Little Miss' birthday pictures yesterday and have more to do today along with a family Christmas session with a dear friend.

One of my favorite things... The first week of hard core weight-loss effort. Gotta love how quickly those first 5 pounds disappear!

A few plans for the rest of the week... Preschool, Begging my mom to cut my hair before my CA trip, and LOTS of preparations around the house. It makes me feel much better about leaving Hubby with the kids for the weekend when the house is completely in order!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Big Sister was in a cooperative mood, so I started her favorite music and let her bop around for a few shots yesterday.



Join the daybook group or see other daybooks here!



Thanks for stopping by,