Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We have had a wonderful busy time this Christmas. We had our own gift opening here at home. Then last weekend we went to my Moms house. We had two dinners with family there. This weekend we are headed to Iowa and also to my Dads. WHEW! Fun time though. We also got about 5 inches of snow on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. First it was a couple inches of sleet though. It made for very slick driving. We took our Durango with 4 wheel drive to my moms. We would have never made it in the van. As it is we still can't get our van out of our uphill driveway.

Here are some picture highlights.

The cousins. Aidan, Payton, Ethan, Luca, Gioia and Dominic. Aidan and Ethan belong to my cousin Brett and his wife Becky. Payton belongs to my cousin Matt and his wife Jenny. They are expecting #2 this summer. The other 3 are mine. :)

The all went out to try sledding. We have a big hill in our front yard. Perfect for sledding. They only went down a few times. It was REALLY cold out.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Hair

We did some fun Christmas hair today. It is twisted with a red ribbon, Candy cane style on top and then braided in the back. Pretty quick to do and fun!

Also to add to the holiday fun. Here are two of my favorite recipes.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll
White Chocolate Cheesecake
You can make the same recipe without the white chocolate and add extra vanilla for an awesome Vanilla cheesecake. Another tip, add Baileys liqour to the sauce instead of Brandy!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chocolate Truffles

SOO much easier than you think.

2 cups Chocolate Chips (dark, Milk, or white chocolate, whichever you prefer)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tablespoons real butter (unsalted)

Heat cream in a sauce pan. Add butter. As soon as it is hot remove from the heat and stir in your chips to melt them. As soon as its all mixed pour it into a glass mixing bowl and refrigerate. Chill about two hours. Using a melon baller or 1 inch ice cream scooper, scoop balls out and place on foil. You can roll in crush nuts, cocoa or other toppings.

Tips: You can add a few drops of flavor if you choose. Such as raspberry extract, orange extract or with the white chocolate add some almond extract. Also if you use your sifter (for flour) you can sift the cocoa over the truffles and not have to handle them.

Sling gift set.

I have a friend who makes baby toys and appliqued onesies. We decided to get together and offer gift sets for sale. We are going to sell them on her site I believe, probably have them up after the New Year. For now we are both just telling people we know about them. Here are the two sets we have available. If anyone is interested just email me. Regular price is $60. We are offering a 10% discount right now, so price is $54.

Her website: My Sweet Potatoes
My website: Bambino Slings

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mary Poppins and Nativity play.

The kids have had several activites this week. One of the biggest being Gioia's Mary Poppins production. She had the part of Katie Nanna, Chimney Sweep, Bank patron, and Penguin. Her Katie Nanna had several lines and she got to wear a microphone. The kids all did wonderful. We had several other friends in it as well. In the spring I heard they are doing Charlotte's Web.

Then on Sunday they had their sunday school play. It was the Nativity. All the grades were involved. Dominics preschool class were angels. Gioias class were the sheep. Dominics class sang "Go Tell It on the Mountain". Gioias sang "Silent Night". All the kids sang "Joy to the World" at the end. It was very cute. Of course there was narrating and Mary and Joseph and some of the big kids had reading parts. It was the whole Christmas story.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Finished projects.

I got a few projects finished this week. I hope to have some more done by Christmas time.

I got a quilt top pieced together, but I don't want to post it until I get it all quilted. I got a baby rag quilt done. Not sure who this is going to yet, but I have a bunch of pregnant friends and family. So I am sure it will find a home soon. First picture is front. Second is back.

I also made a bunch of flannel cloth wipes. These can be used for Kleenex, TP or napkins. Whatever. I have a stack in the master bath that I started using for TP. I like them. Then I just toss in the diaper pail. Lets face it, 90% of the time its just pee anyway. So why not throw it in with the diapers?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Visit with Santa

At our house we have tried really hard not to push the Santa thing. I want my kids to have the fun Christmas experience but on the other had I want to emphasize Jesus at Christmas time not BUY BUY and I WANT I WANT! I also have a little problem with feeding them a story (lie) but then telling them later it is not true. But of course they watch movies and Santa is a main theme in all of them. So when we started out we just didn't mention Santa. My mother in law had the smart idea of mentioning the Santa was just for kids and then adults buy each other gifts when you are older. Vague answers have also seemed to satisfy. It leaves open the option for the kids to believe, without the parent committing to a lieing. For example, yesterday we saw Santa at Bass Pro Shop and got a free picture with him. The kids really enjoyed it. Gioia asked the man if he was the real Santa. His answer? "You never can tell. That is part of the fun of Santa and Christmas is never really knowing." Thank you Santa! That was the perfect answer. She decided for herself that she didn't think he was the real Santa. That he was just a worker and the real Santa was much to busy to be at all the stores doing that. But she told him what she wanted just the same and was happy to talk to him.

For our part we emphasis giving. We took names from the angel tree at church and bought presents for a family in need. We talked about how we were playing Santa when we did that. We also have talked about Saint Nicholas and how he was the first "santa". All in all, I think the Santa thing can be fun and harmless. I remember when I finally accepted and knew for sure my mom was our Santa. It wasn't sad or anything, actually then she started letting me help her with wrapping stuff for my little brothers and helping her be sneaky. We would hide the presents at my Granny's house. Then go get them on Christmas Eve.

Ok, so done with my soapbox and on to what people really want to see. Cute pictures of the kids with Santa. FYI, Luca was asleep in the sling. So he didn't do Santa pictures this year. Pretty sure he would have NOT wanted to go to him anyway. He is kind of a mamas boy these days.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Whole Wheat Carrot Cake

This is a staple around here. Since it is made with whole wheat flour, carrots and only sweetened with honey, it is pretty healthy. We sometimes leave the frosting off and eat it as breakfast.


2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. toasted wheat germ
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 tsp. molasses (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
3 c. finely shredded carrots
1 c. chopped pecans

Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch round baking pans. In a mixer bowl combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add honey, butter, molasses and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low speed until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in carrots and pecans. Pour into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely. Frost between layers and top with Cream Cheese Frosting. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Monday, December 14, 2009

More hair.

Ok. Here is todays style. I love this one! It was pretty quick and turned out Awesome!!

Tomorrow I will give all the Mary Poppins pictures and highlights!

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp Vanilla
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Use any combination of the following: (2 cups total)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark choc. chips
1/2 cup white choc. chips

Mix butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs together until creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Bake in 350 oven for 8-10 minutes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Italian Hot Chocolate

If you have never had the pleasure of Italian Hot Chocolate you are missing out! DO you like pudding? Do you like Hot Chocolate? Well combine the two together and you have it. It is thick and you can eat it with a spoon if you want. It is heaven in a cup. Look at these two guys if you don't believe me.

Italian Hot Chocolate

Stir together in a pan, BEFORE you turn the heat on.

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

Over low heat whisk in:
1/2 cup water

Continue to stir and add:
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cook and stir constantly over med-low heat for about 10 minutes until it is thick enough to coat a spoon.

Serve and enjoy.

Tips: 2% or whole milk work best. YOu could also kick it up a notch and use 1/2 and 1/2 in place of the milk or part of the milk. We have also made it with Soy Milk or other milk alternatives and it turned out great.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Today my baking was really the homemade hamburger buns. But since i have posted that previously, I am posting a sweet recipe.

This is a favorite around here and VERY easy to whip up.

Molten Chocolate Cakes

1 cup choc. Chips

6 tblsp butter

Melt this in Microwave.

Mix in 3 Lg eggs.

Mix in ¼ cup whipping cream.

¼ cup flour

Line the pans with oil and sugar (instead of flour).

Put in indiviual cupcake or ramakin size baking dishes and bake at 400 until the edges are set but the middle is still wet and jiggly. (about 15 mins). Don't over bake. You want the insides soft and gooey!

Serve warm, turn upside down and put on plate. Dust with powdered sugar, if you want to get fancy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pretty hair.

My friend found this awesome website with girls long hairstyles. Princess hair she calls it. We have tried several this week and we are hooked. I am planning today to stop and get some ribbons and more pretty things. I see Stocking stuffer ideas coming too.

Even for an amatuer like me I think these turned out well. She looks so grown up.

The one in black is a barbie headband style do. A french braid across the top with the hair slicked down like a "headband" in front. Link to instructions:

This second one is a twisty braid style. It would look better with a bow at the end and those little clear hairties instead of the bulky ones we used.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

One of my favorite things to bake is breakfast foods, like muffins. We got a big box of fruit from a local High Schooler we know. I have all these fruits to eat and I thought of Apple Cinnamon Muffins.

Here is the recipe we used.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsps cinnamon
2 apples, peeled and chopped small

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oats
2 Tablespoons butter
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. In mixing bowl beat butter, sugar, eggs,honey and milk. The milk was an addition I made, if using all purpose flour you may omit it. Then mix in all the dry ingredients. When batter is ready put it in greased muffin tins or with cupcake papers. Mix the topping in a small bowl. Put a small amount of the topping on top of the muffin batter in each tin. Bake for 20 minutes.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I got this recipe from the Natural Papa. He has a cool blog so you should check it out too.

The great thing about this recipe is the simplicity. I love banana bread and was making it with Stevia from another recipe. This one just takes the cake (or the bread). LOL

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas, smashed
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup wheat germ

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into greased bread pan and bake for 30-45 minutes.

This time I added 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/4 cup cocoa nibs and 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips. It was devine. I am having to stop myself from eating it all.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Food on the brain. - Cupcakes

So I am been seriously in the baking mood this week. I have decided that in an effort to share my love of all things sweet. I am going to post a recipe a day here on the old blog for rest of the month of December. I have a bunch of things I want to try out, but I don't want to overload my family with sweets, so I may have to give them as gifts. Bummer right? We I won't give all of it away, just half ok?

First lets start with this. Jaime's Favorite Cupcakes. Tried and true recipe that you should run out and make. Eat them warm from the oven with a cold glass of milk. :)

For the batter:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. vinegar

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz. chocolate chips

Mix each in a separate bowl. Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. Fill each paper no more than 1/2 full of chocolate batter (it will be slightly runny). Drop the filling in to each cupcake. Go ahead and add as much as you can to each one until full and filling is used up. Makes about 18 cupcakes. Bake for 30 minutes.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Cute babies.

Our good friends have a new baby. She is almost 3 weeks old. Alba Sofia is her name. We all agree she is very beautiful. Here is Gioia holding her. Dominic was the most in love with her. He kept asking to hold her. Saying She is so cute! I love her! It was very sweet.

Then there is Luca. He is so awesome. His favorite thing to do is help me unload the dishwasher. He takes the silverware and puts it in the silverware drawer. He can barely reach the drawer, so it is very cute. His favorite thing to say is "Uh Oh." He can blow kisses and yesterday he started putting his finger to his mouth and saying SHHH!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tooth pulling.

Gioia is 6 now and is losing her baby teeth. I was surprised that as soon as the first one came out others were right behind. She has lost the bottom two and the top front has been wiggly for a long time. Finally I suggested we use a string to pull the tooth. We gave it a try and it came mostly out. She didn't want to try again. So when Daddy got home, we convinced her he was a tooth pulling expert. We got her ready and I took the next picture. She looks thrilled right? HA ha. She didn't want us to pull, so while I was showing her the picture I took on the camera, DH snuck up and just pulled the tooth out. She got a dollar for this tooth.