Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas 2014

I learned a little Christmas lesson this year. When we asked Grant what he was going to ask Santa to bring him, he said "The Planes Fire & Rescue movie and the Darth Vader car. That's all I want. Just two presents. I have enough." And it didn't change, he kept saying that's all he wanted. When we went shopping he wanted to look at the toys, like he always does but he didn't ask for anything and didn't say "I wish Santa would bring me this..." So I took the opportunity to down-size the Christmas "stuff" this year. I won't deny that I've gone overboard in years past but I didn't want to this year. Grant got more than the two things he asked for...of course but when deciding what to get him, in addition to those two things, I thought more about it. Does he need it? No (of course not). Is he going to play with it a lot? Eh, maybe. Is it going to end up shoved in the toy box in two months? Yes. Then don't get it. And you know what? We had a fantastic Christmas. Grant loved and appreciated everything. He paid attention to it all and wanted to play with it all rather than tearing through one present after another ending with a pile of stuff. 

On Christmas Eve we sprinkled the reindeer food that Grant made at Pullen Park on the front lawn.

Then we left cookies & milk for Santa. I had done a lot of holiday cooking this month so Santa doesn't get homemade cookies in this house. Santa got some yummy store bought cookies and he really enjoyed them!

And everyone was up and at 'em bright and early the next morning! Grant was beside himself when he saw that Santa had left him some presents. Santa wraps the presents he leaves in our house with special paper so Grant knew which ones were from Santa. 

But first...stockings! (Stuffing stockings is one of my favorite parts of Christmas!)

He must have been good this year, that stocking had some good stuff!
On to presents. The very first thing he wanted to open happened to be one of things he asked Santa for...

Planes Fire & Rescue! I love that excited face!
And a few more:
The Darth Vader car he asked for (and the Luke Skywalker one as a bonus)
Always books!
Ninja Turtles Raphael "combat gear"
A marble maze! We've had a lot of fun with this!
Grant had so much fun Christmas morning! He played while I cooked breakfast and then we got ready to go to my in-law's for Christmas lunch. Grant knew there were presents from Gramma & Grandpa to open but we have lunch before we do that. Like last year, I told him he couldn't open presents unless he eats a good lunch. Thankfully, he ate a good lunch...what will I do if that stops working?

Grant always helps pass out the presents and then he had a ball opening the ones for him.
(That big box in the second frame is a
soft new blanket that Gramma made him!)
It was such a fun and exciting Christmas! We had such a great day. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas too!

He was out by the time we reached the end of Gramma's driveway!

Happy New Year, too!

Friday, December 26, 2014

New Recipe: Make-Ahead Muffin Melts

The day after Christmas already? I can't believe it. I actually started my Christmas shopping in September this year. It's the first year I've ever started really early and it was great! Except that I'm the kind of person who can't wait to give a gift so hanging on to all those presents for so long was murder. We had a wonderful Christmas - and I hope you all did too! I'm still going through all our Christmas pictures, so I thought I'd post about Christmas breakfast.

Christmas breakfast in this house is always a bit challenging for me. As a kid my mom made us a big breakfast after we opened presents because we'd go over to my Aunt & Uncle's house later in the afternoon for Christmas dinner. For us, we go to my in-laws for Christmas lunch and no one wants to eat a big breakfast if you're going to have a big lunch in just a few hours. A couple years in a row I tried different casseroles. One in particular I remember was just gross (my sister and husband didn't think it was but I vowed to never make it again...I'm pretty sure it made me gag). But this year I found a good one! An all-in-one easy, quick breakfast that wasn't too big and didn't ruin lunch (or make me gag). These Make-Ahead Muffin Melts are from a Pioneer Woman cookbook my friend Janis gave me for my birthday. I haven't tried a PW recipe yet that I didn't love!

Make-Ahead Muffin Melts

  • 12 slices of bacon
  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled & chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (real stuff, not light or fat free)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 English muffins, split
  1. Fry the bacon (I like mine crispy but you do what you like). Chop up the bacon and set it aside. 
  2. Peel the hard-boiled eggs and "rough chop" them. 
  3. In a bowl add your chopped eggs, cheese, chopped bacon, mayo, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix it all up. Taste it and see if it needs anything else. If not, lets move on.
  4. Preheat your oven's boiler (PW says preheat to "low", my oven has only one boiler setting "hot as hell". But if your oven has a "low" then do what she says.)
  5. Spread the egg mixture evenly on top of all your English muffin halves and put them on a baking sheet.
  6. Broil them for 3-4 minutes (ovens vary so it make take longer for some, it did in mine). Keep an eye on them so they don't burn.
  7. Enjoy!
Recipe Source: Pioneer Woman

  • I halved the above recipe, we are only 3 people and do not need 12 English muffins sitting around (I'm not sure these would reheat very well). The recipe halved great.
  • If you're making these ahead of time (I made mine the night before), skip #4 in the directions. Make up your mixture, spread them on the muffin halves, arrange them on a baking sheet (they could also be layered with wax paper in a container to save room), then wrap them and stick them in the fridge. To make sure they would be hot, I baked mine at 350 for 8-10 minutes (that may have been a bit too long) and then broiled them.
  • Grant isn't a fan of crunchy things and didn't like them. He picked the topping off and ate that but was totally turned off by the whole thing. But in my opinion, it's a kid friendly recipe. Just not my kid.
  • Chopped up ham or sausage would be a tasty substitute for bacon.
  • This would be good for dinner too! You could serve it with a bunch of different sides.

Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 Pullen Park Holiday Express

I'm a big fan of large Christmas light displays. I get that from my Dad. Grant does too, he can't get enough Christmas lights! So he always has fun at the Pullen Park holiday thing. I almost skipped the tickets this year because no Saturday times were available when I decided to reserve tickets but it's such a fun family thing that I decided a Sunday was just fine :)

Usually you just reserve your stuff and show up. This year you had to pick a specific "boarding time" for your train ride. Fantastic idea because it was SO much better organized this year (and less crowded). I didn't pick up our stuff ahead of time this year, I had so much going on that I just decided to get it when we got there. Except we almost didn't make it. Husband's family had a get-together that day and it ran long. Our train time was 5:45, I looked at the time as the lady was handing me my envelope it was 5:30 - whew! So we headed there immediately. But after the ride we just wandered around the park enjoying everything before heading home.

So happy and excited!
Waving to the passengers on the later train ride!
They had a sledding station set up that I was so excited about! I knew Grant would love it and I figured we'd ride together. Nope. He told me at the top that he wanted to ride alone and since I was stuck up there without a sledding for Mama. But he had a blast. We met him at the bottom and he said "That. Was. AWESOME!" I think the sledding was his favorite, even more than the train.

They had a little station set up where you make "Reindeer Food" to sprinkle in your yard on Christmas Eve. I thought that was so cute!

Making his reindeer food.
We walked around a bit checking out the lights before hitting the carousel (which is the fastest carousel I've ever been on - I can't believe no one was thrown off!)

Going so fast!
Since it was Sunday night (and Grant had missed almost the whole previous week being sick), we didn't stay a long time. But it's kind of become a tradition for us so I'm glad we got to go. On the way out we stopped so Grant could play in the snow machine they had going at the entrance/exit.

It definitely got me feeling a little more festive and it was a great way to end our weekend!

Friday, November 14, 2014

High Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up Jennie to share some of my favorite stuff from the past week.

1) Friday was my birthday and I woke up to a hilarious card from Grant that he picked out himself. Husband told me he was very excited about the unicorn and after I read it (and was laughing myself silly) he told me " out for the unicorns". And then after work, I was surprised with some flowers, a new Hurricanes tshirt I wanted, and my annually requested DQ ice cream cake! Happy Birthday to me :)
Best. Card. Ever.
Birthday things!
2) I was feeling crafty and made a bracelet. It's for my sis but who knows if she'll actually wear it. I'm mostly just excited that I tried something and it worked out without me having to throw things or make up swear words.

3) Sunday was a rather productive day for me! I got a crap load of laundry done, stocked my freezer with breakfast sandwiches for the week, and even made some yummy cinnamon glazed scones to enjoy with my cofee on Monday (scone recipe HERE). 

Looking at this makes me sad that they're all gone :(
4) Tuesday I spent the day with Grant for our Grant & Mama Day! We had such a fun day together and it was nice to take a day and just make it all about us since sometimes the weekends feel like a time I need to get things done. It was great to have a day just for fun!

5) Last night I was supposed to cook and I just didn't want to. So we went out and Grant got to pick. He picked Golden Corral...because they have ice cream. It's not at the top of Husband's favorite places but I don't mind it every once in a while. Grant will usually pretty well there and...well, I just love his chocolate covered dessert face :)

Happy Friday everyone!
Have a great weekend!
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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Grant & Mama Day #2

Earlier this year I took a random day off to have Grant & Mama Day. We went to Durham and had a great day together. At some point in the last month or so I got thinking that we needed another one of those days and I decided on Veteran's Day since I would be off anyway. This time we just stayed around Raleigh.

We started our day downtown at the Museum of Natural Sciences. Grant loves that museum but goes nuts for the dinosaur bones. And in their Nature Research Center, there is an aquarium that, among other fish, has a "hammerhead shark". I can't remember the actual name of the shark and it does look similar to a hammerhead but it's not. However, you try convincing a 4 year old that it's not. 

Checking out some fishes
More fishes
And the whale bones
He really liked that big turtle!

Dinosaur bones!
It wasn't crowded at all yesterday, great
day to visit!
Me & my guy :)
The plan was to hit the History Museum after the Science Museum because they have a couple race cars that Grant really wanted to see. But they were closed (note to self: check on these things before you show up). But it was pretty much lunch time and the boy who ate a huge ham & cheese omelet for breakfast was hungry already so we went to Panera for lunch.
Hulk Smash lunch date!
Such a perfect day to sit outside.
And in a moment of selfishness, I decided we should quickly stop at Old Navy after lunch because I knew they were having a sale. It was a productive stop and Grant had a blast trying on hats.
Somehow he's become a Star Wars fan and he
thought this hat was so fun (but, no, he didn't get it!)
After that, it was on to Pullen Park for some outdoor fun. We don't go to this park often so I knew it would be a fun little treat for Grant. It's a really pretty park and they've got a nice playground area, kiddie boats, a carousel, paddle boats, and a TRAIN. We rode the train as soon as we got there, with Grant telling me the whole time "This is really fun!". He expelled some energy on the playground, rode the kiddie boats, and then we wandered around the park for a bit before riding the train one more time and heading out.

Not having had a nap at all at this point, Grant was very tired and he got a little whiney when we left the park. He asked him if Grant & Mama Day was over (we were heading home because I had to get dinner started). I told him it wasn't but that we had to get going. He just about started to cry when he told me "I don't want Grant & Mama Day to be over!" We had one more stop to make, a quick stop at Target (is it ever a quick stop there??) so I told him to take a little nap. But he wasn't tired!
Right. I've heard that one before!
There's a Chick-Fil-A right next to Target and it was still relatively early in the afternoon. Since I had to wake him up anyway, I stopped at Chick-Fil-A and surprised Grant with some ice cream. Then Target. Where we got what we needed, and what we didn't need, and had a blast trying on their silly Christmas stuff.
He was still so tired that he was going into fits
of giggles over these funny glasses!
By the time we got home, I don't know which one of us was more tired (though only one of us would admit it) but we had such a great day together!
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