Friday, January 31, 2014

High Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up with Lauren to share some of my favorites from the past week. It's been a great week!

1) Last Friday I decided to send my sister a screen shot of the current weather on my way to work...sort of engaging her in a little who's-colder-weather-pissing-contest. She won.
It's very likely she'll always win, at least in the winter.
2) Saturday was a very lazy day and it was great! It was actually a lazy yet productive weekeend, which is always nice.
Getting ready to play Grant's favorite board game!
3) On Sunday, I finally hung up the little kitchen signs I inherited from my Mom's kitchen. On various trips home I would buy her a few of these because she thought they were so cute. For years they hung above her kitchen cabinets. My sister sent them to me with my Christmas stuff and I've been wanting to hang them since.
Above my bay window.
4) SNOW! A bigger post to come on this but we actually had snow! I am not a transplanted northerner come to escape the weather. It's actually one of the biggest things I miss (besides my family!). While I don't think I've ever had to stay home for 2 days for only 5 inches of snow...I did take the opportunity to really enjoy it with Grant. This wasn't Grant's first snow - it snowed last February - but we did get to enjoy it longer this time.

5) During our snow day adventures, we decided to trek through the "woods" behind our house and found this great little stream. I had no idea it was back there! Grant and I spent a lot of time back there yesterday. It's so pretty! 

I hope you have a great weekend!
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Conversations With My Toddler

Last night we were headed out to meet my in-laws for dinner. Husband, trying to beat a line of cars, pulled away from a stop sign really fast and sped down the road. 

Grant's reaction to this was "Hey! If the police (po'weece) catches pulls you over! And...and...buys you a ticket!" 

Husband explained what the police actually do - I was laughing - and then for the rest of the trip to the restaurant Grant talked about police and firemen (we actually saw firetrucks) and what they do. 

The mind of a 3 year old is a very fun place :)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

New Recipe: Red Velvet Peanut Butter Blossoms

I don't think I've seen a Christmas cookie prettier or more Christmasy looking than this one. So naturally, I had to make them when I saw this recipe from i am bakerI made these cookies for our Christmas day get-together and dubbed them "The Prettiest Christmas Cookie Ever". I was a little wary of the red velvet/peanut butter combo. I'm not sure why, it just seemed weird. Guess what? Not weird at all. Quite tasty, in fact. I know this because I was eating them long after they probably should have been thrown out. 

The reason I'm sharing the recipe so long after Christmas is obvious, right? Wouldn't they also make a great Valentine's Day treat? I think so too.

Red Velvet Peanut Butter Blossoms

  • 1 bag Hershey's Kisses
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I use Reese's)
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring (I used AmeriColor brand)
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup red sanding sugar (sugar sprinkles)
  1. Heat your oven to 375
  2. Beat butter, peanut butter, and sugar in a stand mixer for about 2 minutes on medium speed. Turn mixer to low and add in egg, milk, vanilla, and red food coloring (your batter will be a bright red-pink color - don't be alarmed!). Mix for about 30 seconds to incorporate, then turn mixer to medium high and blend until light and fluffy.
  3. In a separate bowl mix cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt (original recipe says to sift but I hate sifting and it almost never seems necessary). With mixer on slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture and beat until just combined (now your batter should be a gorgeous red color!).
  4. Remove mixer bowl from stand. Shape dough into 1 inch balls (I used a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop). Pour red sanding sugar onto small plate or bowl. Roll dough ball in sanding sugar and place on prepared cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. While baking unwrap Hershey's Kisses. Once cookies are done baking, remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate Kiss into the center of each cookie. The cookie should crack around edges.
  7. Allow cookies to cool to room temperature.

RECIPE SOURCE: i am baker

  • I was disappointed when I first put in my red food coloring and didn't get that gorgeous perfect red color. I almost added more. But once I added the flour/cocoa mixture it was the perfect red velvet color. So don't get discouraged and don't add more food coloring.
  • I can't remember if I greased the cookie sheet or not. Her instructions just say to put them on your "prepared cookie sheet" and since I made these a month ago...I just can't remember. 
  • The recipe makes a lot of cookies and they seem to last forever. Seriously, I was eating them a week after I made them and they were still good.

Friday, January 17, 2014

High Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up with Lauren to share some of my favorite things from the past week.

1) After a frustrating first attempt (not being used to brakes), I got Grant back on his new bike this past weekend for a second attempt and he got it! He was cruising through the neighborhood in no time. After the bike ride there was a bonus game of baseball (in which I got nailed in the thigh by a very hard hit...those plastic softballs hurt!)

2) We had to go to the grocery store one evening this week but only needed a few things so I let Grant drive the little cart. He gets so excited about it and he looks so cute pushing it around :)

3) Also this week, I was struck by a nasty stomach bug that kept me in bed for 2 days. I think Grant missed me and wanted me to feel better because on Wednesday he came home with this butterfly he told me he made for me:
He's so sweet :)
4) I love to hear Grant talk about his day, he gets very animated and intense when telling stories. One night this week he was telling us about playing with airplanes and crashing them into "chilly icebergs" (he gets this from the movie/book Planes...sort of).

5) Last, certainly not least but lacking a picture...I got the title to my car in the mail because I paid it off! Woohoo!!

Happy Friday!
Have a great weekend!
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Friday, January 10, 2014

High Five for Friday

My first High Five of the new year! I was too lazy last week so this week I'm linking up with Lauren to share some of my favorite stuff from the past week.

1) Over the weekend I was feeling pretty crummy from a cold-type-thing that keeps coming and going. But Sunday I was ambitious enough to try two new recipes. I made chicken and rice soup using THIS RECIPE from Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible (thanks to my Mother-in-Law for that!) and THIS RECIPE for Hummus from Smitten Kitchen. Both were really good and I'm so glad I decided to try them!
Mmmm...good soup!
My first hummus attempt (and the first real attempt at eating it).
2) Also on Sunday we had some Christmas gift exchanges to do. Grant received and outfit that was too small and that store was lacking in toddler boys clothes. So Grant picked this instead:
It's *ahem* a little big and you can see that really bothers him.
3) In honor of Downton Abbey's return - and because they're just good and I wanted some-, I made maple oat scones for those at work fortunate enough to get to the container before they were gone (the recipe only made 8 and I claimed 2 for my Tuesday & Wednesday morning coffees). This was another new recipe for me and it was really good. Although, I have yet to meet a scone recipe that I wouldn't make again. If you're interested, THIS is the recipe I used.
Not all maple syrup is created equal and I accept no grocery store substitutes!
4) There is hockey in my living room most nights, whether on TV or between the three of us.
The boy loves hockey.
5) Speaking of hockey, Husband and his brother went to the Hurricanes game last night which gave me a date night with Grant. Evidently a date night with me means Cracker Barrel because that's what Grant always picks for our dinner dates. So it was Cracker Barrel for him...and some shopping for me :)
His Iron Man pose.
Have a great weekend!
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Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Festival of Lights

Every year at work there is a "combined campaign" to raise money for charities. You can pick from a huge list of charities and there are various ways to donate (deduction from your pay, check, credit card, etc...and it's so easy and convenient that there is almost no excuse to do it). There is also a raffle with various donated items. And I always buy tickets and I never win. I didn't figure I'd win this year either because I had rather a lucky 2013 as far as winning goes (like the blog giveaway). But I won something. Woohoo! It was a 4 pack of tickets to Hill Ridge Farm's Festival of Lights.

Back in the beginning of December we once again went to the Pullen Park Holiday Express. I figured it would be like that but I think I liked this better. I'd been wanting to take Grant to Hill Ridge Farm in the fall but with my schedule it just never happened. So this was very exciting. We had planned to use my winnings before Christmas but it seemed to rain every time we wanted to go. We ended up going the Friday after Christmas (the event actually closed the day after) and invited my mother-in-law and Husband's aunt to go with us. I'm so glad we waited! There was no crowd, just a few other families. It was great! And still very Christmasy :)

They opened at 5:00 and the first hayride through the lights was at 6:00. We got there around 5:30 and walked around a bit. My pictures don't do all the lights justice, the lights were great! And I have to admit, I already liked it better than the Pullen Park thing. We headed over to the hayride area a little early and they took our tickets and let us stand by the fire pit while we waited for them to get ready.

I love hayrides :)
Getting warm by the fire! I thought this was so great and
they had them all over. You could even buy s'more kits.
Our ride started a little early and Grant was so excited. Even though it was really cold that night, it was a nice ride through the lights and none of us seemed to mind the cold.

Grant had so much fun and they had a really impressive light display! After the hayride we found their huge slide. I rode with Grant and I thought it was fun too...but I'm a giant child. We walked around some more and then had dinner there (which was surprisingly good!).

Aunt Debbie got some duck food so they could feed some
of the ducks wandering around. Grant loved that!
We had also bought some tickets to take a train ride, so we headed that way after dinner. That...seemed colder than the hayride. Well, it would since we were going faster. Grant was oblivious, he was just happy to ride the train. You know who wasn't oblivious? Husband. Who had forgotten his hat. So he wore mine.

We wandered a bit more after that. A lot the things that are open during the warmer seasons were closed but we saw enough to want to go back when they re-open for daytime hours. Making our way towards the exit (with Husband still wearing my hat), Grant found the playground.

What a fun evening! I'm so glad we got to go! It was cold but fun and, as my mother-in-law pointed out, it wouldn't have felt very Christmasy if it was warm. I didn't even know Hill Ridge Farms did this until I won the tickets. I definitely want to go back during the day and we'll definitely try to get back to their Festival of Lights next year. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Favorite Serving Spoon

Perhaps only my sister and I will find this funny. I think it even took my Husband a few minutes to find the humor in it. Obviously, I find it funny enough to write about it (and I'm still chuckling about it as I type).

I'm sure at some point in the blog I've mentioned once or twice what a thief my mother was. If I haven't or you don't remember, I'm relatively sure she was one of the most successful petty thieves of upstate NY. I even mentioned in our meeting with the funeral home guy that it should've been put in her obituary as a hobby.

I remember the first time my husband - then boyfriend - went home with me. My parents took us out to dinner and my husband ordered water for his drink. They brought him a glass with his own carafe of water. My mother leaned over, tapped the carafe and said "That's nice. Finish it before we leave so I can put it in my purse." My husband laughed until I told him she was serious (though I don't think she managed to get it).

There was one summer vacation - I was probably 7 or 8, we were waiting for a table at our favorite place to eat in Old Forge and my parents each ordered a beer. They came in these really heavy glass mugs that my mother seemed to struggle to carry to the table when we were called...all the while commenting on what a nice mug it was. After dinner mom asked dad to take her purse for her. Dad picked it up and it was so heavy it surprised him and he dropped. Mom snapped at hime to be careful. He said - a little too loud - "Jesus Christ! What do you have in here?!" It was her beer mug.

There are a lot of those stories. She went through a phase where we couldn't go out without her pocketing the steak sauce. She didn't need it. She just did it. Once at my parents house we were getting ready to eat dinner and my husband said what a nice steak knife he was using. He told me it looked like the ones Outback uses. With him having been around for about 10 years at that point, I stared at him and asked him just where he thought she got it.

Which brings me to my favorite serving spoon. It was nothing fancy. Just a good, sturdy stainless steel spoon that I used for almost everything. My mom stole it from some catered function at work and I loved it. It even had the name of the building she stole it from etched on the back. This year, I used it on Thanksgiving and it seems to have disappeared. My mother-in-law has searched for it, I've searched for it, my husband has too. We're thinking it was set on top of the car when we were leaving and never got put inside. Whatever happened to it, it's gone. I was really sad about it. Maybe that's stupid but I was. After searching high and low and realizing it was gone, I just told my sister one day that I lost it and how upset I was.

She sent me back a picture of one and asked it was the same.

It was. I figured she'd tell me I could have it and I knew I couldn't take it. After all, mom had apparently stolen one for her too. So I told her it was the same kind. Then she sent me another picture:

I lost it. I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. I can't believe she was never arrested! Also, I'm getting more spoons :)
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