Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Day 2015

Christmas morning was fun, as always!  Santa treated us well.  Autie Rie joined us for the morning festivities, and Santa made sure to leave some gifts for her as well.  The kids favorite gifts this year include: Palmer - Easy Bake Oven and Mario Maker for the Wii U, Brody - Build Your Own Lightsaber and Magformers, Archer - Paw Patrol Look Out and pups, Avonlea - Magic Clip Castle and dolls.  We spent the rest of the day just relaxing and playing with all our new toys.  I made our traditional steak pie for dinner, which to my delight the kids all love and get excited about just like I did as a child.  I love Christmas traditions!  Honestly, I just love Christmas, and just about everything about this season!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015

We spent Christmas Eve day with the Nichols side of the family.  We had various appetizers for lunch and had a gift exchange.

That night we went to Emily's house to party with the Hess side of the family, were we had a turkey dinner and exchanged more gifts.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gingerbread Houses

Each of the kids made their own gingerbread house this year.  They were all very proud of their creations!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Selling Cupcakes

Towards the end of this year, I kept having the thought that I should sell cupcakes to make Christmas money.  I would dismiss it each time the thought came to mind, because I hate selling things!  I am not a salesperson.  But regardless, the thought continued.

Then one day I was on amazon and came across some cupcake holders... and ordered them.  I realized there was no turning back at that point.  Starting the last week of October, I posted a different flavor of cupcake every other week on Facebook, selling them for $1.  I sold almost 500 by Christmas time; not too shabby.  Most of our Christmas was paid for with cupcake money.  So thanks going out to all those who made that possible!

I've made probably close to 800 cupcakes the past few months (with making extras for get togethers, parties, home/visiting teaching and Young Womens).  And surprisingly I still like making cupcakes!  I don't plan on selling them again, but I'm grateful for the help they provided this holiday season.  Here are the cupcakes I made.

White cupcakes with strawberry buttercream - offered late October

Chocolate cupcakes with milk chocolate buttercream - offered early November

 Pumpkin cupcakes with caramel cream cheese buttercream - offered late November

 Devils food cupcakes with mint buttercream - offered early December

 Red Velvet cupcakes with cream cheese buttercream - offered late December

Monday, December 7, 2015

Family Pictures 2015

We had our annual family photos taken last month at JC Penney.  I'm very pleased with how they came out.  I think one of the family photos is actually the best family picture we've ever had!  And there was only one meltdown (by diva Avonlea) throughout the shoot; I'd call that great success!


Monday, November 30, 2015

Recipe - Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

I combined a few recipes I found online and came up with these delicious pumpkin cupcakes with caramel cream cheese buttercream.  I've been making cupcakes a every other week for the last couple months, and selling them for $1 a piece in order to earn a little Christmas money.  I made these cupcakes just before Thanksgiving, and they were a hit.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Buttercream

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, pumpkin, water, oil, eggs and pumpkin pie spice on low for 30 seconds and then on medium for two minutes.  Divide batter evenly among 24 muffin tins.  Bake 19 minutes or until cakes are completely cooked in centers.

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup caramel ice cream sauce

Beat cream cheese, butter, caramel and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer until blended.  Gradually beat in sugar.  Blend in salt.  Pipe onto cupcakes and garnish with a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

One Lemon, No More, No Less

My sisters and I continued our traditional dinner at Cracker Barrel to celebrate Mom's birthday.  I feel like I usually keep myself together pretty well, emotionally, on "commemorative" days concerning my mother's passing.  Not that I don't still grieve and that her absence doesn't still hit me hard, but it is usually at random times when I struggle with her being gone.  That was not the case this November 12.  I was sad, all day.  I think because I have been really wanting her advice concerning some aspects of my life.  She was the best at giving advice... whether someone wanted it or not!  And I definitely am wanting it right now.  She was a very wise individual, and often when I couldn't see the right path, or couldn't grasp how I should deal with a situation, she knew just what to say to comfort me and help me.  I miss that.  I miss her.

On a lighter note, I find myself even missing her silly little idiosyncrasies; behaviors that used to irritate me a bit, are now treasured memories.  Like her very specific, very direct, instructions to waiters concerning her beverage order.  She always ordered water with "one lemon, no more, no less," said emphatically, with direct eye contact, and with her index finger pointed in the air.  She only wanted one lemon and she didn't want to waste.  She would feel quite frustrated when waiters would mistakenly bring her several lemons.  So the request became more and more vehement, to the point that I, her easily embarrassed teenage/young adult daughter, though it came across as rude.

Who would have thought that such a silly tradition would carry on.  But it has, for when the three of us daughters get together each year, in memory of our dear mother, a request for water with "one lemon, no more, no less," is always made.  And it is said very wholeheartedly, with unwavering eye contact, and an index finger confidently raised.  And although a waiter, taken aback by our directness, may not crack a smile, I believe my mom does.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Recipe - Ready to Go Frozen Green Smoothie

I've been trying to put our Vitamix to better use, not that whipping up delicious homemade hot chocolate is necessarily a bad use.  We all love smoothies, but rarely have the time or all the ingredients on hand to make them for breakfast.  I decided to freeze a bunch of smoothie ingredient bags in the hopes that we would incorporate healthy green smoothies more often.  It's worked like a charm!  We all love this recipe and it's so easy to just throw it in the blender, adding a couple wet ingredients, and have it ready to go in a pinch.

Ready to Go Frozen Green Smoothie

1/2 banana
1 cup pineapple
1 cup strawberries
1/2 orange
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup water

Combine all fruits and spinach in a small freezer bag and store in freezer.  When ready to prepare, put contents of the freezer bag in a high powered blender.  Add yogurt, honey and water.  Mix on smoothie setting.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Reflections - Let Your Imagination Fly

Palmer and Brody participated in the school Reflections contest this year.  The theme was Let Your Imagination Fly.  I was on the PTA committee over Reflections (this was my second year doing so) and was over facilitating the judging, so our family was all about Reflections for the past month.

Brody submitted a visual arts entry.  He made a Lego representation of our family as robots.  He has such a great imagination and is amazing at building with Legos.  I was so impressed!  I love how he made Greg's robot so tall, how my robot has long yellow "hair," how his robot has big eyes, and how the twins' robots are similar.  He put a lot of thought into his creations.

Palmer entered a short story titled "The Lost Chick" in the literature category.  It was cute.  The chick in the story gets lost and he and his family go looking to all of the places Palmer deems coolest in the world: i.e. Disneyland, Legoland, Winnemucca and China.  

He also entered this picture he called, "Fire in the Sky," for photography.  It won a merit award.

And he spent weeks putting together this mobile.  He took selfies and drew himself as different things he could be when he grows up.  He titled it "Imagine My Future."  He won an excellence award for it!  He was so excited and proud to have his name called at the school assembly, twice!  His mobile is going on to the next level to be judged now.

I was a little concerned about Brody being sad that he didn't win, while Palmer did.  I gave him a hug as he was walking out of the assembly and told him he did a great job.  He said thanks and then excitedly told me that Palmer won and that he was so excited for him.  Melt my heart; I just love that kid!

I'm proud of my creative, artistic boys!  I only volunteer for two of the committee through the school year: Reflections and Parent Teacher Appreciation.  They are the events I am passionate about.  So the fact that my children are also into finding an artistic outlet and exploring their creativity makes me one happy mom!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween 2015

Halloween was a lot of fun this year!  The kids were into all things spooky.  The twins wanted to find every house in the neighborhood that was decorated with scary Halloween props.  We all went to saw the witches at Gardener Village.  The older boys went to their first Haunted House, at the local fitness center.  They went through with my boss who made sure all the characters were easy on them.  They did well.  Palmer was a little scared at the end; Brody said he wants to go again.  

The kids trick or treated the day before Halloween at Greg's work.  They trick or treated around our neighborhood for hours Halloween night!  They got so much candy!

Palmer as Hiro from Big Hero 6

Brody as a king

Archer as a fireman

Avonlea as a princess

Monday, October 19, 2015

Visit to Winnemucca

We took a weekend road trip to Winnemucca to visit Grandpa Kelly and Grandma Kerri. They had just adopted a teeny, tiny baby kitten.  The kids loved on it all weekend!  They also quite enjoyed watching cable television cartoons (but couldn't quite understand why the shows didn't work like Netflix, i.e. no pausing, no requesting a certain show at a certain time) and their jetted bathtub.

We spent a morning/afternoon four wheeling on some sand dunes and hanging out in the RV - watching movies and eating lunch.  Archer was especially adorable walking around in his helmet that was so big and heavy for him; he couldn't keep himself balanced or walk straight.

It was a great trip!  So glad we could visit and have fun.