Monday, December 28, 2009

Sweet Valley

Is there anything that you have found, seen or heard that has instantly transported you back to the days of your childhood?  I was transported back to my childhood just a couple of days ago by my sweet childhood friend.  The day after Christmas, I was at my mom's helping babysit BB while Sister and her husband had a "date day," when she came over and brought me a surprise. 

Now how many of you can say that you remember and still talk to the girl next door? :)  I'm so happy to say that we have still managed to keep in touch through notes, emails and family.  Luckily for me she remembers the goofy stuff we used to do but still talks to me to this day.  You see one of the goofy, but fun things was my love for a particular series called "Sweet Valley Twins."  It was a series of books that were released that told the story of twin girls, Jessica and Elizabeth, who were best friends until one day everything changed.  Jessica and Elizabeth worlds were turned upside down the day that Jessica decided to dress differently from her sister and began hanging out with someone other than her sister. These series books were my first introduction to drama, and at my tender age of 10 that was considered serious drama.   The drama became heightened when the series brought the girls into high school and yup you guessed it I had to read them too.  Somewhere my passion for the twins began to wane and I moved onto more serious stuff, mostly due to the fact that my brother, then in high school needed help with his book reports, which meant I read the books and told him what happened. 

Its so funny, I hadn't thought of these books until my sweet friend brought this over at Christmas time.....

and she was right.  It was bad, but I had to read it.  Well, I read most of it, I had to skip about a 100 or so pages but still it made me crack up just thinking of those girls, Jessica and Elizabeth. and  I also remembered the funny picnics my sweet friend had recalled when she and I would sit in our yards to discuss the latests trials and tribulations of Jessica and Elizabeth.  Funny picnics because they took place in two separete yards, she in hers and mine in my grandmother's and we both setup our lunches and talked to each other over a wall until one day she invited me over to her side of the wall.

Yes sweet friend I remember them now and I did read the book and it made for a funny read.  Thanks for remembering me and transporting me back to the picnics in the yard when we would talk to each other over the fence about the Sweet Valley Twins. 

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Fun!

Christmas was lovely! 

This year was the first year we were able to do almost everything we wanted!  Mi esposo and I were able to visit his family and spend time with alomost everyone on Christmas Eve.  Almost the entire clan gathered at my in-laws where the kids grouped themselves together around the Christmas tree and opened up their presents.  I love watching their faces when they open up their gifts and see the surprised look on their facees.  Luckily we were treated to the "How Awesome Is This" surprise face instead of the "What is this" look.  Christmas Day was spent at my parents' home with everyone on my side.  We all gathered together and watched movies, ate lots of candy and cookies and had a blast.  Another point for mi esposo and I, the kids yet again enjoyed all of their gifts. 

For the adults, we decied to do something a bit different this year.  Instead of purchaisng gifts for everyone or particpating in a Pollyana, we decided that this would be the year of delicious treats for everyone.  Mi esposo made his famous banana chocolate chip bread in individual loaf sizes, while I made several batches of my reverse chocolate chip cookies with dark chocolate cocoa.  We created platters for each family and viola, instant sugar goodness.  My SIL and her family made a beautiful tray filled with all kinds of homemade goodies with honorable mention to the cupcakes which were especially tasty.  Sister, dear sister, decided against ruining another one of mommy's pans making her famous peppermint bark (apparently you can use too much force to break up the bark) was enough so she bought us all chocolate covered pretzels from Lores which were divine. 

I'm finding that Christmas has taken on a new meaning for me.  Of course Christmas is foremost the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but it also a celebration of family.  I'm so grateful that I was able to celebrate with all of my family this year and I hope to continue to do so in the many years to come.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowed in!

Last night I told kitty that she had a doctor's appointment and the only way she could get out of it was if we had snow.  Apparently kitty was praying mighty hard last night because this morning mi esposo and I awoke to this outside our window.....

(above picture was slightly modified to hide our trash cans)

What else could we do but settle in and have french toast and bacon.  Its what everyone has during a snow storm. 

Haven't you noticed how many people run to the store before a storm and pick up milk, eggs and bread, the glorious fixings for french toast.  Our french toast had a twist as mi esposo dunked them in corn flakes, a trick he learned from a coworker, to add an extra crunch.  

Here's the recipe if you'd like to try it...courtesy of mi esposo

Ingredients to make four slices of french toast

1/4 cup of milk 
4 slices of bread
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
2 eggs
10 ounces of crushed cornflakes, honey bunches of oats or the like

Whisk together the milk, eggs, cinnamon and nutmeg and dunk each slice of bread into the mix making sure to soak the bread thoroughly.  Then take those slices and dip them in the crushed cornflake mixture. 

Melt about a pat of butter onto a griddle at medium heat and then add your bread.  Brown both sides of the bread which will take about four minutes per side and serve to thedelight of your family.  It was delicious!!!  I couldn't stop myself from taking a bite before taking this picture.

The snow is still falling down and I believe we'll receive about a foot of snow!!!!  Good luck to everyone digging themselves out today, but if you don't have anywhere to go, think about making the snow storm stable, french toast and settle in to watch movies or just hang out at the window like kitty will do.  Lucky girl, no doctor's appointment and she'll get a nice winter wonderland to watch all day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookie Swap Day at Christmas Time

Last Sunday our family experienced a new tradition...."Cookie Swap!" organized by this little lady, my SIL.

Her new glasses are just too cool!

Saturday I made not one but two types of cookies, Mint Delights, shown in a photo way below, and Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Williams and Sonoma.

The Chocolate Chip Crinkles came out wonderfully, a beautiful replica of the Williams and Sonoma cookies wouldn't you say although they are just a bit smaller than those featured in the photo by W&S.  I decided to use a teaspoon scoop rather than a tablespoon scoop so that the cookies would be bite size treats.  I'm happy to report that they were a hit and gobbled by all.  Mi esposo even brought them to his office to enjoy with his co-workers.   At least I think he shared. :)

Also featured at the Cookie Swap were the following fabulous delicious treats...

Mint Delights (top left), Chocolate Crinkles Cookies (top middle)
and Mini Cherry Pies (bottom right) by SIL which she found on Bakerella's website.
They were delicious!

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies - Mmmm Mmmm Good!

SIL's Confetti Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies - great with Coffee!

and Sister's Peppermint Bark which was incredible!

Here is sister sharing her Peppermint Bark with SIL's eldest, I can't believe what a big girl she is now.

And here I am eating up the cookies with the baby of the family.

 We all had a lovely time and I believe we'll be cookie swapping again in the near future.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Planning - Part 2

Christmas Cards....all but just a couple to go....

Gifts purchased.....Check

Gifts wrapped....Check....oh wait, I forgot to buy a couple of gifts, dang it...okay, adjust plan....

Schecule my next shopping outing....Check

Decorate progress, tree is up and decorated, banister is done, window decorations may need adjustments.  You see mi esposo put up two wreaths but it seems kitty keeps trying to eat them and the tape securing them.  We may need to adjust the window decorations, and I still need to deocrate the mantle and finish my garland decoration.

Cookie Swap.....I'm set to bake this Saturday, but the question is what should I make? 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Williams & Sonoma

or these

Double Dark Mocha Drops from King Arthur's Flour Company

Don't they both look delicious!  I'll take some pictures tomorrow and let you know what I decided to create and devour!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Planning Part 1

Tis the Season to be baking, crafting and everything in between.  This year for the Christmas Season I've started off strong!  I hit the stores on Black Friday and took advantage of the sales to get a bunch of gifts (toys, clothes and DVDs) for my nieces and nephews.  I printed out a great checklist, courtey of my sister's BFF, Martha Stewart which I highly recommend.  While I'm not on track 100% with the checklist its given me a great starting point in so much that I have already started addressing my Christmas Cards.  Its December 1st and I'm doing Christmas Card!  Totally unheard of for me; I'm so proud of myself. :) 

Tonight the wrapping station will be setup so that I can get my wrapping grove on which will help me to make sure I'm on target with my gifts and prevent a Christmas Eve shopping mad rush.

Also, my Sister-in-law (SIL) is planning a cookie swap that I shall be participating in.  I can't wait, what should I make?  Chocolate reverse cookies?  Brownies?  Thumbprint cookies? 

Now I just need an idea for a crafty garland for my mantle.  Any ideas?