30 December 2010

Our Christmas Snoop

I love this look of surprise and delight on Daniel's face.

Does he really know exactly which toy it is?

Will he really like it?

Well, I think the better question is "Is he really surprised?"

You see, the word on the street (or at least at Grandma's house) is that we have a Christmas snoop in our house. It seems that someone went snooping in mommy and daddy's room. And just happened to see under the bed (by accident). And just happened to see the Imaginext Batcave that Daniel has been staring at longingly in the toy magazine. And, well, might have acci
dentally told Daniel what he was getting for Christmas. Then the little snoop confessed it all to Grandma.

And there he is. The snoop.

So was Daniel really surprised? Knowing Daniel, he might have forgotten what he was getting. I guess we'll never know.

But I guess I'd better start looking for a better hiding place for presents - because wrapping them as soon as I get them is not going to happen. The joys of Christmas! :)

23 December 2010

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme...

I love rosemary! I think I started loving it when I planted a bush several years ago - mainly for the reason of having a few sprigs here and there for random recipes. But that bush has done far more than offer up a couple of sprigs a few times a year. I credit it with (finally) jump-starting my labor with Thomas (after three weeks of "home rest"; then permission to have the baby, but, of course, no baby; and then walking multiple laps around the backyard close to midnight). I do not recommend chomping on raw rosemary, by the way. Desperation brought me to that point. But since then, I've found better ways to use that bush. Here's a few of them.

1. Southern Living had this suggestion in one its latest issues. Tie up several long sprigs with a pretty bow and - Ta-da! - some pretty greenery to hang on a door, mirror, or whatever else needs a little sprucing up. I hung mine on my front door for a couple of reasons: a.) My home is not large and doesn't require something huge (although something big does look nice). b.) My Christmas wreath has had it, and I needed something to prove to the neighborhood that we do celebrate Christmas. I also cannot bring myself to buy Christmas decorations that are not on clearance. I know I'm a cheapskate, but I'm okay with that. So the rosemary got me by this year!

2. Another idea comes from a sweet lady named Karen that Catherine Pendley and I met at the boys' swimming lessons last summer. Karen is a very interesting lady who has lived many different places and traveled extensively throughout Europe. I loved hearing her TELL me this recipe because she pronounced everything so beautifully. Just be glad I'm typing it.

Make a roux (equal parts butter and flour, mixed over medium heat until smooth) and then add about 1 1/2 cups of milk. Heat until thickened and add salt, pepper, and one or two chicken bouillon cubes. Yes, this is really cream of chicken, but it is sooo much better than what's in the can! Simply pour this mixture over chicken breasts, throw a few sprigs of rosemary on top, cover with foil, and bake for about an hour on 350. So good!

3. Our family's favorite bread to have with an Italian meal is definitely Becky Gunnoe's Rosemary Bread. We think it's famous. It's that good.

Mix 1 T. dry yeast, 1 T sugar, and 1 C. warm water in large bowl and allow mixture to become bubbly. Mix in 2 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 tsp. salt. Add 1 T. fresh rosemary. Knead until it's smooth and elastic (add more flour if necessary). Oil bowl, cover, and let rise in warm place for 1 hr (until doubled). Punch dough down, divide in half, and let it rest for 5 min. Shape into two loaves and place on baking stone or "sprayed" cookie sheet. Melt 2 T. butter and brush on top. Sprinkle 1 T. rosemary on top. Let loaves rise until doubled, about 45 min. Lightly sprinkle course salt over tops. Preheat oven to 425, and bake bread for about 20 min.

I love a good edible evergreen!

16 December 2010

That Kohl's Ambience

A few weeks ago I had to run into Kohl's for something. Addie had just gotten her 1 year-old check-up, and, to be honest, it wasn't a great visit. Besides her getting five shots, the pediatrician said that she's behind in her walking (which I knew - all of my children are late movers. Our doctor has joked that maybe we have a "late-moving" gene). But since the boys had turned out fine, I really wasn't concerned about it. However, there were some other developmental questions I was unsure of and had just answered them with "no."

Bad decision. She ended up looking like she was behind in several areas. So the doctor sent the questionnaire home with me and said to try those activities with her. In other words, "Since you're such an hands-off, BAD mom, you need to do this again!" No, I like our doctor, and knew that's not what he was saying, but that's how I FELT when I left his office. So needless to say, I really just felt like going home and sitting on the couch and eating chocolate AFTER making my baby go through a battery of activities to test her "normalness" - whatever that is.

Going into Kohl's somehow made me feel a little better, though. I didn't even buy anything! (So I know it wasn't retail therapy.) Pushing the stroller through the store while smelling cinnamon and spice candles, hearing Harry Connick, Jr. softly singing Christmas songs, and (since it was early in the morning) seeing neatly stacked displays - somehow it all seemed to calm my nerves a little bit. And prevented me from going home and eating through a whole bag of Ghirardelli chocolates. Who knew Kohl's had such impact? As I was finally leaving (after strolling through aisles of things we don't need and restraining myself from buying a Pumpkin Pie Spice Yankee candle and a winter scarf - such weaknesses for me!) God, in that still small voice, reminded me that my husband deals with stressful situations on a weekly basis. When he comes home from work, he does not want to open the door to a chaotic home and a grouchy wife and fighting kids. (ouch!) No, my home doesn't have to be perfect - it is fa-a-a-r from it! But, I can try a little harder to make it a pleasant place to come into after the pressures and stress that he has dealt with that day. So, as odd as it may sound, now I remind myself to make my home a little more like Kohl's. I know it will pay off in the long run! "Every wise woman buildeth her house. But the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." (Proverbs 14:1)