Holiday Smiles and Silly Families

In addition to being the week before Thanksgiving (yay) this is also the week that people in my extended family start Christmas shopping. (Not me, I’m busy cooking/working two jobs/raising three kids/you know, stuff) But that does mean that everybody wants the kid’s Christmas lists. This works for me, as a kid extended family (ie people who you see two times per year) would never have a clue enough about my personality, likes, dislikes, or shoe size, to actually get me anything I wanted/could wear/would use. As a grown up, this means we can spend those weeks in December returning crap, or (the option I prefer) actually hanging around/getting to know (this year’s version) of those family members. So each of the moms makes a list, and then emails it to everyone. Honestly, this is usefully for those of us who see kiddies all the time but can’t keep in their head their own kid’s shoe sizes, much less other people’s.  These lists were started when I was in high school by one of my aunts. What is less helpful (IMO) is that these lists became like a newsletter of sorts. You know “Tilly Mae is now a Junior in High School and is {of course} still making straight As. She enjoys volunteering at the local homeless shelter, and has time to do that despite her busy school/band/choir schedule due to the fact that her father and I decided we prefer to fund her activities {because they made $100s of thousands of dollars per year and could do whatever} rather than her having an afterschool job. She recently won an award for Excellence on the Field {which was awarded as a participation award, I remember asking her} with her soccer team this year as they made their way to the season finals {no mention that they got in as an alternate}Go Eagles! She has always been a joy to us and we approach her last two years before college with the mixed feelings of those who are as proud and blessed as we and will miss her terribly.” This is the same cousin who that year I caught smoking pot on the front stoop of my mother’s house while everyone was inside. They would go on and on, these newsletters, and then have a list at the end of overpriced gifts none of us could afford to purchase.  So when I started making lists for mine I will put a brief “Hey, how are ya’ll” at the beginning and make applicable personal comments in the actual lists. I mean, if you mail (on red or green paper, natch) or email me a 3 page diatribe, what will we talk about when we all get together, right? So I sent out our list yesterday, after 2 request texts (one while I was at work) and then a reminder text a day later. I have since then been told that I should share my letter here, because “this is cracking me the fuck up” as I was told.  So I have changed actual personal info using {brackets and fake names}, but figured, what the hell? Hope it makes you giggle a little this morning as well…

Back by popular demand! A Christmas list (or maybe just inspiration guide) for the kiddos here. Thank you in advance for sending me your kiddo’s list as well (ahem) if applicable. We are looking forward to seeing everyone around Christmas time this year! If we haven’t gotten together and nailed down a time, please text/call me/email me/send carrier pigeon/something. I really am hoping to see all of ya’ll soon (& force you to take home copious amounts of baked goods), so let me know. Also, since this stuff ends up changing all the time (are some of you trying to be cyber anonymous? Or perhaps you just don’t like Christmas cards? 😉 ) My contact info is listed here, please reply with any updates of your own. I did try to make this list as clear as possible, but since you don’t have the benefit of being inside my head (lucky you!) let me know if anything requires further clarification. I asked the kids to be cost conscious when making their lists (some are better than others, as you will see) feel free to ignore overpriced items or donate towards them. Again, I feel, and am (still) trying to convey that the getting to see family and friends, the fellowship of the season, celebrating a  birthday, and the joy of giving are Christmas, not who got what from whom. Please, keep that in mind as you go about shopping this year. We love you and are truly looking forward to seeing you.

 

Address: {you may send an e-card, but I prefer no strange visitors, that I’m not related to}

Cell Phone: {also, do not call me}

Email to phone (ie you want me to read it NOW-in important & capital letters):

{can’thavemyhomeemail}

Email to computer (ie you have attached things & want me to be able to see them on a nice eye soothing full screen, and it can wait till I get home & put people to bed-or the weekend): mamaskitchentable@gmail.com

Email at work (ie we are almost sending an IM, but with links & it is happening Monday through Friday 8:45am to 4:45pm EST): {ormyworkemailnosey}  or {alsonot thisone}

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!!  (yes I am excited, time for dancing, I do believe…)

 

BoyChild I:

Plasma Nebula Ball (a link here: http://www.amazon.com/Electric-Novelties-Plasma-Nebula-Ball/dp/B000QSQSMU/ref=pd_bxgy_hg_img_y  Doesn’t have to be this one, this is an example of one.)

Legos (Esp, Star Wars)

Lava lamp in black, green, blue (or another “soothing” color)

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Tennis Shoes (size 7 ½ Men’s) Because he keeps 1 pair at school for gym & wears out tennis shoes fast!

Money towards the purchase of a Nintendo DS (his broke & he is trying to save enough to replace it)

I just replaced all of BoyChild I’s clothes (since he grew 6in & gained 28lbs over the summer!) So he is good on clothes right now (give it till say, February & then he’ll be naked again lol)

Bathrobe Boy’s XL or Men’s S (size 14 in boys clothing)

Stress Balls (he goes through these during the school year)

Pair of sturdy work gloves (for outdoors work/gardening/etc) Men’s S

Giant Floor/Body Pillow in dark green, navy or khaki (please not white-he really is going to lay on this in the floor! Or Dark brown-Will has one in that color & it’d be best to keep them identifiably separate. Lol)

Books (Enjoys genres/reading level like: Red Wall series, A Series of Unfortunate Events series, Percy Jackson series, Hardy Boys series, lots of fantasy/mystery/adventure)

 

BoyChil II:

Legos

Books (Enjoys genres/reading level like: Flat Stanley series, BFG & other Roald Dahl books, Captain Underpants, Boxcar Children, any funny books, he is not a fan of fantasy/mystery or adventure-ugh, I know- there is a great list here: http://us.macmillan.com/MacmillanSite/categories/Childrens/Fiction/Humorous+3rdGrade )

Playground Ball

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Pillow Pet (specifically the Dream Lites Snuggly Puppy)

Huge Ben 10 & any “classic” superhero (Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Hulk, Flash, Wolverine, you get the idea) fan

BoyChild II spends a lot of time pretending to be one of the above, any “props” or costume pieces would also be great ideas as those things get worn out fairly quickly around here & he & K-man are constantly running around in ½ costume & creating sound effects/destroying bay guys/etc.

Bike Hemet (Children’s M)

BoyChild II is also good on clothing (what with all the hand-me-downs)

 

GirlChild:

iPod Touch (or money towards her saving up for one)

Cookie Monster, Elmo, or Oscar Snapbacks with a flat bill. (I think these are hats, but I’m not nearly hip enough to know what that is exactly)

Studded Belts (any color/pattern/etc) Size Women’s M

1in curling iron

Watch

Sports Bras (34C or Women’s M)

PlayStation 2 or Nintendo DS games

Books (Enjoys genres like: Twilight series, Undead and Underemployed series, YA romance-please be content aware, Mom thanks you-, Flipped, “girl power” type stories)

Jeans size 5 or 6

GirlChild just got a new bed that is a twin with a twin sized trundle, all of her bed linens (in addition to being horrifyingly-her words- childish)are double bed sized. She still likes pink, purple, green, yellow, etc, just doesn’t want to sleep with her fairy/Bratz/Princess blankets anymore. Any contribution would be welcomed, even gift cards to Target to pick out her own.

 

Merry Christmas all!

Me

 

Do you have (or have you received) Christmas lists/newsletters/ etc this year? Maybe one from years past? Do share; I would love a chuckle as well. Hope you have great weekend!

Advertisements

4 Quick Dinners for the Little Ghouls

Happy Halloween everyone! Prayers to those of you still without power or under water. I hope you all go Trick-or-Treating as soon as you are able. For the rest of us, it’s Trick-or-Treating on a school night. (Ugh) I always hate that when it happens, you can’t let them eat their candy while you are walking around the neighborhood (Ahh! Potential poisons/razor blades/allergens/oh my!!), which you are doing at an unreasonably early hour (it’s still daylight and only the toddler crowd and complete lame-os Trick-or-Treat before dark; ask any of my kids, they will totally confirm this fact), so you go home after, everyone gets one piece of candy then it’s teeth brushed, pjs on, and off to bed. (hurry, hurry) And the next day? Cranky, pissy, sugar-hungover kids; hanging out at school with other kids of a similar disposition. (an excellent reason to not teach elementary school, or to give your kids teacher an excellent gift prior to the “winter holiday”, however you want to interpret that) I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more fights at school the day after Halloween, I wonder… (To do: Google average day of school year with most fights…) Anyway so before the treating and tricking this evening you still have to feed the little dears (I normally wouldn’t refer to kids that way, but trying to get them to anything like eat a healthy meal prior to Trick-or-Treating? Psht, right), my mommy guilt gets on me and I’m all “a healthy meal before we indulge this evening” while they are all (picture short people vibrating with excitement) “but I’m not hungry for supper (same child is normally in the final death throes of starvation by this time in the afternoon), I just want to put on my costume and goooooo (whiney tone added to the physical vibration here)”.  Ahh, these are the days… Good times and all that. I have discovered a few (very fast) fairly appealing and yet moderately nutritional Halloween suppers. I thought I’d share (since most of them were ideas from cookbooks that I simplified or used as is). These are also fun for any busy night in October or, I suppose, if you go for the ghoulish, any busy night year round.

Ghost Soup and Graveyard Salad

*the trick to any Halloween dish is make it sound as gross/scary as possible*

Ghost Soup is actually low-sodium New England Clam Chowder topped with a slice of Provolone Cheese cut with a ghost shaped cookie cutter. (place cheese while steamy hot and your ghost will be more melty and less cookie cuttery-yes I just made that word up) Graveyard Salad is Base Salad with large wheat croutons (gravestones) and alfalfa sprouts (moss) and raspberry vinaigrette dressing (zombie blood), delish!

Wormy Sandwiches with Bug-Infested Logs

Wormy Sandwiches are hotdogs, sliced length-wise into thin strips and tossed in your fav BBQ sauce, served in a pile on a hamburger bun (or dinner roll for littler monsters). Bug-Infested Logs are a gross (er?) take on the classic ants on a log (aka the only way anyone has ever been excited about celery, ever). You cut your celery logs and fill the trough with cream cheese (maggots) or cottage cheese (if you kids are willing-mine aren’t & well, neither am I *shudder*) top with raisins (flys, bugs, whatever you wanna call them). Bon-appetit! 🙂

Vampire Soup and Fang Sandwiches

Vampire Soup is just classic tomato soup (blood) with a slice of Colby (or American, just orange cheese) cut with bat-shaped cookie cutter (you can usually get 2 bats per slice) floating on top. Fang Sandwiches are grilled cheese sandwiches cut into 4 triangles (arrange into a toothy grin on plate around bowl of soup). This one usually makes even the pickiest monster happy.

Mummies and Garbage Dip

The Mummies are hot dogs wrapped with crescent roll dough that is sliced into strips. (Make sure to wrap haphazardly so that it looks like mummy wrappings, also kids can do this part, if they want to help) Bake as directed on crescent roll package. When cooled enough to eat give your mummies ketchup (or mustard) eyes. Garbage Dip is Ranch veggie dip (get a kind that has chunks of veggies in it) with cut up veggies spread all around on a serving platter. The trick is you need 5 baby carrots arranged in the dip as though they are a hand reaching up out of the dip. Try adding to this “illusion” by putting a plastic spider ring on the ring ‘finger”. Mmmmm…

These are the easiest, I’ve seen others, but the whole point is quick and easy, right? Save the Spider Web Pancakes for breakfast, not between school and candy time Trick-or-Treating.

 

 

 

 

 

Have a fun (and safe) time!

Pumpkin Soup

This is about the same color as I remember this soup being, I stole this picture because I have never taken a picture of this soup, sorry. I tried this for the first time about two Thanksgivings ago as a way to jazz up some leftover cooked sweet potatoes, but it works just as well with pumpkin. The point is it’s one of those dishes that appears way more fancy than it is. (And a great way to sneak in some veggies for your picky eater)

What You Will Need:

2 Tablespoons butter (or margarine)

1 cup chopped onion

2 celery stalks, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large garlic clove, chopped

1 large can pumpkin (or what I usually use: 3 sweet potatoes cooked, peeled, cut into large chunks)

1 can (about 16 ounces) low sodium chicken broth (you can use veggie broth if you prefer)

1 can (about 10 ounces) evaporated milk

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups whipping cream (not heavy whipping cream)

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Large saucepan (with lid)

Blender (unless you are truly gadget gifted and own a food processor, of course my blender lives on the countertop which makes its access easier too, so there’s that…)

What to Do:

In a saucepan cook onion, celery, carrots, garlic, broth, and butter until everything is mushy. (Celery will be clear and you will be able to literally mush the carrots with the spoon you are stirring with against the side of the pan)

Add canned pumpkin (or sweet potatoes) to blender along with cooked veggie mix and evaporated milk. Blend until very smooth, it will be just too thick for a straw. Add nutmeg and maple syrup to blender, blend again.

Dump contents of blender back into saucepan. Turn heat to medium. Drop in Cinnamon stick.

Add whipping cream and stir.

Bring back to boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover for 20 minutes.

Remove cinnamon stick and serve!

*This is great as a side/meal starter, but it makes a really festive simple lunch served with plain toasted cinnamon raisin bread.*

Braided Wreath Pumpkin Bread

I promise yours acan look like this too, super easy!This is a recipe I got from one of those small paperback cookbooks in the grocery store. Click here for the link to the original recipe (the completed picture is also from their site, as it looks clearer that any picture I had available). The recipe below is my 3rd (or 4th) version of the original. Not much tweaking has actually occurred in our favorite version of this, which is part of the reason I tracked down the website, gotta give those folks at Pillsbury their due, right? This wreath is usually something that gets made at Christmas time and given as a gift or brought to a gathering.

What You Will Need:

Bread:

In between 6 and 6 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar (packed)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 packages regular active dry yeast

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup butter (go real, salted butter here, I promise you will notice the difference)

1 1/2 cups apple juice

Fancy Top: (which is really easy & totally looks just like the picture, so give it a go)

1 egg

2 Tablespoons water

2 teaspoons sesame seed

2 teaspoons poppy-seed

What to Do:

In a small sauce pan on medium/high heat combine pumpkin, butter and juice. You will want the butter melted and the mixture to start to bubble, then immediately remove from heat.

Combine dry bread ingredients in a large mixing bowl. (Use only 2 ½ cups of flour at this time)

Add hot pumpkin mix to flour; mix with electric mixer until just combined. Start to gradually add more flour until you have a soft dough. (You probably will not need all the flour listed)

Dust flour on (clean) countertop and place dough on top; knead to mix ingredients really well. (spend 2 to 4 minutes doing this, but keep in mind over kneading is just as bad as over mixing and how you end up with doorstops instead of fluffy breads).

Butter (again as a verb) a medium-sized mixing bowl and roll dough inside to grease it all over. Cover dough in bowl with Saran Wrap. Leave the dough on the counter for at least 1 hour. (It should grow about 2 time its previous size)

While you are waiting, butter a large round cake pan.

When the dough is huge punch it down and then divide it into 2 halves, then each half into 3 equal (or as best as you can) parts.

Now the fun part! This is Play-doh you can lick later and not regret. Roll each sixth into a dough rope (try to keep them all the same length). Using 3 ropes at a time pinch the ends together and braid. Add other ropes, pinch into a circle when you get to the end.

Place in cake pan. Cover with (clean) dish towel and put back on counter for about 30 minutes. (That yeast’ll go crazy and double again, which can be very entertaining for any tiny cooks in your kitchen, they can also really help with this next part)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

While your wreath is rising whisk egg and water in a small bowl.

Once wreath is ready to bake use a pastry brush to brush on egg mixture (it’s called an egg wash) if they can “paint” gently let those tiny cooks do this. Lightly sprinkle seeds on top.

Put in oven and bake about 25 minutes (it will be a lovely golden brown when done).

Remove from pan and allow to cool.

*Note: this is great room temperature or warm, but warm and dipped in apple butter? That is something that you think about later if you know what I mean…*

The End of Summer 2012

You know how I love summer. You know how sad I probably was this Monday evening. School started back last week, but I could at least pretend a little longer. But, nope. As much as Memorial harrolds in my favorite season, Labor Day takes it away disguised as an overly pleasant, bittersweet, three-day weekend. Oh Labor Day, you sneaky little devil. It was a good summer, we spent all but the last 3 weeks living in a hotel and discovering that that wasn’t so bad. There were Mosquito battles, but no one had heat stroke, all in all a good summer. We had GirlChild’s Bday, played in the pool, had my Bday, played in the pool some more, rebuilt a house, had K-man’s bday (I promised to get of my ass & post about his Farm cake soon), we had BoyChild II’s bday party (I know, I am sooo far behind on the cakes/parties), we moved back into the house, went back to school shopping, had Gma’s (My mother & yes this is the adult Luau I am still promising to fill everyone in on as well) Bday, and then started 3rd grade/middle school/high school. Whew! we did have a busy summer! I thought I’d share one last just for summer recipe before I type up all those party posts. This one is a great way to encourage the hydration (and still yummy). So enjoy one last summer recipe for 2012!

Fizzy Fruit Tea

  • Brew 4 bags green tea in your coffee maker
  • Pour brewed green tea into gallon sized pitcher
  • Add 12 oz frozen juice concentrate (try cranberry/raspberry, orange, apple/cherry, or your house’s favorite)
  • Stir well
  • Add ice to mix
  • Once cooled pour into glasses 2/3 full
  • Top each glass with chilled ginger ale (or club soda, either works)
  • If you are being very fancy add fresh berries etc
  • Serve & enjoy!

Hope you all had a great summer! Keep an eye out for all the partying we did. Stay cool till the weather does my friends. 🙂