Friday, December 23, 2011

More Christmas Prep & What They Do With My Camera When I'm Out on a Date w/Daddy

I've been smiling all day long at little things that catch my eye.  Here are some of them...

Christmas Cookie Baking

Christmas & Advent Decorations coming up & going down

And in case, I don't blog tomorrow or the day after I wanted to leave you with something to make you smile and our warmest wishes for all of you who read our little blog...

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Christmas Prep. Edition

round button chicken

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~

I was able to snap a few pics from the week to remind me of all the joy and peace we've had around our home.  Don't get me wrong...the time has been a bit stressful with this many people in the house every. single. day!  It's not easy as they get older and bigger and their voices get louder.  They bicker and fight and like to hide from me and their chores.  It's definitely a normal family!


I love getting Christmas cards from friends old and new.  Seeing the kids stop to look at photo cards and read family newsletters while eyeing tins of Christmas cookies is always a pretty sight.


I am so happy we were able to keep up with the daily readings for our Jesse Tree ornaments.  It's fascinating to go through the genealogy and history of Jesus.  It has helped all of us prepare in a special way for the excitement to come.


Since the older kids can run across the street and skate, the little ones have to find something to do.  These two had a snack break after playing "Secret Agents."  Gabe reads things to Jane and gives her instruction, and she follows him around doing whatever he says!


We actually don't use any real greenery in our home.  I decided to buy fake garland and a tree after all the fussing with keeping things fresh.  Maria twisted this garland on the 18th for the O Antiphon, O Radix Jesse.  We planned to get a poinsettia but it didn't work out.   Maria threaded these fake poinsettias into the garland especially for the day!

See more Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real Moments over at Like Mother, Like Daughter by clicking on the button above.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sometimes the Time is Right...

for skating!  We were worried the snow we got a couple weeks ago would affect the ponds.  They weren't really frozen yet, and snow on an unfrozen pond is not good for anything.  But with the warmer weather and the bright sun we had over the last week, the snow melted off the ponds and refroze on top leaving a clear, glassy surface.  The neighbor called yesterday and asked if school was still in session.  I said today would be better.  After lunch the kids were ready to go.  Sometimes the time and the weather is just perfect for ice skating.  You have to take it!

Meanwhile, I'm roasting a turkey and trying to get more cookie decorating done.  Managing toddlers is slowing me down a bit, or we may just bag it to go and watch the skaters.  Although, I love that I can see them from the front windows!

Pinterest Inspired Cookies

I saw these on Pinterest last evening so I decided to get a little creative with my icing colors and a few sugar cookies I had baked the day before.  Here's what I came up with....

Daddy had me pack these up to give to a coworker.  She's the gal who bails him out whenever he's late for a class or a patient.  She deserves a little "JOY" this holiday season!  Now back to the kitchen for a bit more baking.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Baking

I, too, have gotten wrapped up in Christmas baking.  After I finished up with the Cookie Exchange and making the Spritz for the kids, I decided to have another round at sugar cookie baking.

After this...

and this...

I was able to come up with these...

I also made mittens, but I don't know where those pictures are!:(  I love, love, love decorating cookies and when all the right pieces come together...even oven heating, chilled dough, icing consistency, and the right shades of can be a glorious experience for me.  I get so happy.  The kids wanted to get their little grubby hands on these but only Daddy was able to be my taste-tester.  Otherwise, which kid would you choose?  Then you have to give everyone a cookie making your number go down by at least half a dozen!  Sheesh!

I checked my cupboards for tins...I really like store the cookies in.  This led me to run to my local thrift store to check for tins there.  I was wondering what all the hubbub was about with so many cars in the parking lot.  Turns out yesterday was a VIP day.  Having a VIP card would get you 50% off all merchandise!  I unfortunately never signed up to get a VIP card.  A nice gentleman was kind enough to let me use his VIP card so I could get the discount.  Talk about Christmas cheer!!

One of my favorite purchases yesterday was this AWESOME cast iron mold.  You can make just about anything bread-y in this thing....cornbread, muffins, cake, cookies, candy, or brownies.

Isn't it cute?  I decided to make brownies so I had to use all my culinary expertise to figure out how to get the little buggers out of the molds once cooked.  My first attempt was an utter failure because I tried using nonstick cooking spray.  The kids always love to eat my mistakes so they didn't give me time enough to snap a pic.  For my second attempt I had to get smart about what I was doing.  Greasing and flouring a pan has always yielded good results.

Filling the molds took a bit of a trick...cake or cornbread batter would work better...more runny.  I filled them right up to the top.

This was taken when I used the cooking fail!

Here they are...the little cuties!

I decided to dress them up a bit so I did this...

I hope your baking is going along nicely and that your oven doesn't need a new thermostat!  Oh, the conditions we work in out of love....(eye roll)!

Mexican Christmas Traditions

What would Christmas be without tamalitos?  Mexican tamales are a Christmas tradition that I grew up with either helping my mother to make or receiving them from my godmother or grandmother or buying from one of the ladies from church.  In any case, if you didn't have a plate of tamales to offer any of your Christmas guests, you weren't REALLY having Christmas!

I'm a modern Mexican mama so I leave the work of tamales to Costco and Daddy.  He's always more than happy to scour the cities' Costco sites for the chance they may be stocking tamales for Christmas.  He has scored for the last three years!  This year is no different.  To accompany his meal this Sunday, I made Mexican rice.  Here's how I make case you're hankering for a little Mexican flare for Christmas.  And even if you celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with chocolate and pan mexicano, you can still choose one of the recipes from my sidebar for the remaining days of the Posadas.  That reminds me we have to get back to doing Posadas around here with our other homeschool friends!

I use a rice cooker since I make a lot of rice for our family.  Using a rice cooker frees up the stove and the rice is perfect every time.

I keep my rice in a Frangelico tin that I've had for years.  I buy a HUGE bag of rice from Costco...
like 20 lbs. of rice hence the need for smaller containers!

Rice is easy to cook...the ratio is 1:2 so you use 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.  Here I have 3 cups of rice and 5 cups of water in my rice cooker.  I'm not crazy...I'm just going to add another cup of liquid in the next step.  Stay with me!

Next, we'll work on the flavoring for the rice...Start with 8 oz. or, in my case, I had 1 pint of stewed tomatoes, Knorr chicken bullion, and ground cumin.

Place the undrained tomatoes in a blender and purée them.

Pay no attention to the icing bottles behind the blender...fodder for another post!
I usually have a Diet something or other while I'm cooking.:)

I placed 3 of the cubes of bullion and 1 T. ground cumin into my 2 c. liquid measure
before adding the puréed tomatoes.

I then heated the mixture in the microwave for 1 minute to dissolve the bullion.   Here it is....nice and hot.

The color changed a little bit, and I gave it a little stir.
Add the liquid to the rice cooker, stir it, and set your rice cooker to "Cook."

It takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes to cook, and this is the result...

If you have a sprig of cilantro, you could place it in the rice cooker while cooking.  The sprig will float to the top and rest on the cooked rice.  The aroma is so pleasing and although I don't care for cilantro, I love the smell of cilantro in rice!  Also, traditional Mexican rice is fried in oil before cooking.  It's very flavorful because the frying gives the rice a nutty flavor.  However, because of health reasons, I'm no longer in the business of frying our rice.:(  I still have the memories though!

And...I'm so excited for the New Year!  I have so many ideas for posts for 2012...chocolate mexicano, tortillas, Posadas, and maybe the kids will be ready to help me make our own tamales!
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