Sunday, November 30, 2008

Recipe Extravaganza Coming To Heather's Recipes!

Be sure to come back tomorrow because tomorrow starts my "Twelve Recipes of Christmas" celebration. I will be sharing twelve of my favorite holiday recipes with all of you. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I will share a recipe as well as pictures of some goodie or dish that I have made in celebration of Christmastime. The week of Christmas I will share a recipe on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, taking us right up to Christmas Eve. I hope you will come back often to see what yummy things I am cooking up and maybe try a few and find some new favorites for yourselves!

Friday, November 28, 2008


I headed out this morning while having barely digested the delicious Thanksgiving dinner I enjoyed at my mother-in-law's house last night. I didn't get up until 5:00 AM, so I had close to six hours sleep. I took a quick shower and grabbed a bowl of cereal in the dimly lit kitchen before heading out the door at 5:30 AM.

I started at Wal-Mart, which was a complete crazy house. So, I turned around and walked out without buying anything and headed to Target, which was scheduled to open at 6:00 AM. I parked my minivan at 5:55 and got out to head to the front doors. To the right was a long line that snaked all the way down the TJ Maxx store and to the left was a growing group of people who weren't going to wait in the line. I toyed with joining the small group of people to the left of the door, but decided I couldn't do that (shopping for deals just isn't worth being rude) so I started to walk down the sidewalk to the end of the line figuring all the extra walking might work off some of the pie and stuffing from the night before. As I was walking I could see several of the people in the line stepping out of their place to see the ever growing crowd of people to the left of the doors, waiting for it to open. I knew what they were thinking. "Those people just arrived and they think they can get in before us?" I took my place in line and as I did it started moving. As we neared the Target entrance, I saw a large man wearing a red shirt directing everyone from the line into the store and keeping all the people in the group to the left out until the entire line entered the store. I even heard him say, "Not until this line gets inside." I have to admit, I wasn't the only person in line smiling, knowing doing the right thing has it's rewards.

I went to several other stores, with varying degrees of success. My final destination was Kohl's, where I have to admit I was going to give up and go home, despite finding a gift for my sister-in-law and a stocking stuffer for Ian. The line was literally all the way to the back of the store! It just wasn't worth the wait. So, I returned the toy to the shelf and headed back the the front of the store to put back the jewelry when I had a revelation. The jewelry counter wasn't that busy. Yes, I had to take a number, but they seemed to be taking care of customers quickly and there were four women behind the counter helping people. I made a quick inquiry as to whether I could buy a few other things along with the jewelry I wanted to buy, and she said I could. So, I ran back to the toy section, picked up my giftie, grabbed a Curious George Christmas book from the Kohl's Cares For Kids display and took a number. Less than five minutes later I was being checked out by a really nice checkout lady and out the door with my purchases!

And I have to admit, everybody I encountered was really nice, including the people working at the stores. I would definitely shop Black Friday again, but next year I want everybody's list, so I can get it all done in one day!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

What says Thanksgiving more than a four year old in a turkey hat?

Maybe a four year old in a turkey hat and her big sister?

Hope you have a good one. Don't eat too much turkey or potatoes, do save room for the pumpkin pie!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Son and Hugh Hefner

Ian took a shower this morning and when the water turned off, I opened the bathroom door holding up a brand new bathrobe for him. He has never had a bathrobe and I was saving this one for Christmas until I realized I'd have to buy some clothing item for each of the girls, and they need more clothes like I need a hole in my head, so I just decided to give it to him.

He poked his head out from behind the shower curtain and squealed with delight, "A bathrobe!" He immediately got out of the shower, dried himself off, and put on his new bathrobe. He walked down the hall to his bedroom, admiring how warm and soft his new robe is.

A few minutes later he appeared downstairs in his new robe, and only his robe if you get my drift. He strutted around the first floor and occasionally his sisters and I were flashed with boy bits that none of us wanted to see! That is when I sent him upstairs to either get dressed, or at least put some underwear on. Two minutes later he was back downstairs wearing his robe still. He opted for the underwear option. He spent the next hour and a half in his robe until I finally told him he would have to get dressed before lunch.

I'm not sure I'll ever understand boys!

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Son, The Chef

Ian is in fourth grade this year. That means he has to write four book reports each quarter, basically one very two weeks. They are easier than traditional book reports in that they are all worksheets that he has to fill out (answer questions) for. And, he can choose his own book. But, there are twenty different genres to choose from, and he can only do each genre once. It is a lot of work, but definitely exposes him to a wide array of literature.

We chose to complete this week's book report on a cookbook. On our bi-weekly outing to the library, I suggested he look at the cookbooks in the juvenile non-fiction area. He chose two that interested him, as well a book about sweet foods. He pored over each cookbook and decided he wanted to use the Pampered Chef Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook for his book report. I also suggested that he choose one recipe and he and I could whip it up together.

After careful consideration, he chose the chocolate chip cookie pizza recipe to make. I made sure we had all the necessary ingredients and on Saturday the two of us went to work. I made him read the recipe, pre-heat the oven, showed him how to measure the flour and other ingredients, and let him do the work. He was really excited and did a great job trying to mix everything with just the wooden spoon.

The final results turned out like this:

And it tasted as delicious as it looked!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Cake And Some Favors

Over the last three weeks I've made more cakes than I can count (okay, not really, but I've made lots of cakes lately.) The first one was for Elizabeth, my sister-in-law's, baby shower. This is her first baby and my first niece or nephew on my husband's side of the family, so I'm very excited to get to hold another baby again! (That's Elizabeth with Zoe and Emma - isn't she the cutest pregnant woman?)

Her only request for the cake was the flavor, my snickerdoodle cake. It is a cinnamon cake with cinnamon buttercream frosting. I've never met anyone who doesn't love this cake. So after lots of internet searches for ideas for a cake, I finally came up with this cake:

The clothes are just cut from scrapbooking paper and hung on with little clothespins I found at Michael's Crafts store. I found the idea for this cake here.

I wasn't sure the three layered cake would be enough for everyone, so I also made 12 chocolate chocolate chip cupcakes frosted with vanilla buttercream. I topped them with little plastic carriages I also found at Michael's. Here are what they looked like:

Along with the cake duties, I volunteered to make the favors for the shower. I made 25 little paper onesies with three Hershey's milk chocolate nuggets inside each one. They turned out so cute that I had to share them here:

My husband's Aunt Mary, also happened to be having a birthday on the day of the shower and her sisters wanted to surprise her with a cake. So with the other half of the batter from the cupcakes, I made a nine inch round cake for Mary. Here it is:

Finally, I made my husband's 36th birthday cake, too. Since I've been married to him I've made him a cake every year, but none have been particularly exciting form a decorating standpoint. But this year, I wanted to surprise him. He has been talking for a few years how when he was little he had a Batman cake all done in the frosting stars. Then in March at Zoe's 4th birthday, he made an offhand comment about how he would like the same birthday cake Zoe had. So being the good wife that I am, I made him this cake:

He loved it!

That is all of my cakes (except for the pumpkin spice cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting I made for Bunco two days ago) from the last three weeks. I'm going to focus on pumpkin pie now!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Happy Birthday, Brendan!

Today is my husband's birthday. He is the love of my life, the father of my children, my best friend, my confidant, my rock.

He is an amazing dad, son, brother, husband and man. I am so proud and lucky to have been married to him for almost 13 1/2 years now. I also have now known him for half of my life. I feel so blessed to have him. Happy Birthday, Brendan! I love you!

Now, head over to his blog and wish him a happy birthday!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Halloween Round Up

I know, I know, this is late in coming. But I've been busy lately!

Halloween actually began on Wednesday when Zoe had her preschool party. I'm room mom and planned the party for the kids. Zoe went as a cowgirl and I think she is the cutest cowgirl in Illinois. We didn't know it, but her teachers dressed as cowgirls, too. Mrs. Voirin repeatedly introduced Zoe as "her sidekick." Zoe grinned ear to ear each time her teacher said it. We made a craft, ate some cupcakes and brownies, then ran a relay where the kids had to scoop up candy corn on a spoon, run across the room, dump the candy corn into a bowl, then run back and pass the spoon onto the next person. The kids loved it and the I had a lot of candy corn to pick up off the floor when the game was done!

Here are my three kids getting ready to go out trick or treating with their Dad. Ian was Ash, the trainer from Pokemon. I made and sewed the symbol on his hat out of felt and cut the fingers out of the gloves for this costume. You can see Pikachu peeking out from the back of his backpack. Zoe is, of course, Scooby Doo. Emma chose Shawn Johnson of Olympic gold medal fame as her costume this year. I cut the letters U S A out of white felt and sewed them to her gymnastics suit. Then I cut a circle out of some cardboard, painted it yellow and sprinkled gold glitter all over it. After punching a hole in it and stringing white ribbon through it, she had a gold medal. The final touches were a ponytail and make-up and cheek glitter.

Here is each one on there own.




I think my favorite part of the costumes this year was that they cost me all of $1.50! The gloves for Ian's costume and the blue bandanna for Zoe's cowgirl costume were the only things I had to buy. Everything else I had in the house somewhere. (Zoe wore the Scooby costume last year, too!) I did however have to spend a few nights hand sewing the USA onto Emma's costume and the Pokemon symbol onto Ian's hat. But, I love that their costumes were unique and exactly what they wanted to be. No princesses or Darth Vader's for me this year!

I'm also realizing that I love the set-up we have for the annual trick or treat fest. Brendan has always taken the kids out, and I've always passed out the candy. I saw several sets of both parents going with their kids, which led me to question who is passing out candy at their house? I understand not wanting to miss any of the cool things your kids do, but I also think they need to do special things with each parent separately. And for us, this means getting candy door to door with dad. I hope my kids look back on this and remember it happily. (With Brendan working in the city, they get to do loads of things with me. Doing something with Dad is extra special.) Besides, I really like the hour or so to myself in the house while the four of them are all out gathering goodies. I've come to find it relaxing and equally exciting to hear their stories when they get back and dump all their candy on the floor. It's a good set-up.

Hope your Halloween was as much fun as ours was!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Flip Side Of Pleasing Everyone

The elections this year seem to have sent an unprecedented number of political phone calls our way asking us to vote for candidate A or candidate B from everything from the presidential election down to the Will County Auditor's office. My husband and I were discussing how we can't recall an election with this many phone calls asking us to vote one way or another.

Maybe it's because my husband and I generally fall on opposite sides of the political spectrum, or because we actually voted in the primaries, but the number of calls was really out of hand. And since I am a stay at home mom, I am generally around to pick up the phone. One day it occurred to me that the fastest way out of these phone calls, besides not answering them, was to agree with whatever the caller was telling me.

"Can Candidate A count on your support on November 4th?" Absolutely!

"Will you be voting for Candidate B on election day?" Sure!

"Would you like a sign for your yard?" Not at this time.

This was how the typical conversation would go. First of all, I didn't have time for most of these phone calls. Second of all, I didn't always know what the candidates were running for at the time (I did educate myself before today, but sometimes they called before my research had been done.)

I know this isn't exactly productive, but I enjoyed it.

But this afternoon I got another phone call. "Hello! Did you get a chance to vote yet today?" Yes. "Did you vote for the _____________ party?" No. Awkward pause. "Ooooh. That's okay." Click.

Yeah, it was a little weird. I'm sure I told this perky lady I would vote for her candidate, but then didn't. (I know for a fact I told two opposing candidates I would vote for them.)

I actually felt a little bit bad. But only a little.

It's Election Day!

It's time to go vote! Get in line, stay there until it's your turn, and let your voice be heard. Whether you lean left or right, red or blue or maybe green, go vote. It is your right and responsibility as a citizen of this great country. Go now. Vote.