Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas family fun - part two

I guess you could say the last post and the next few might just be for the sake of recapping Christmas for myself (my quick version of scrapbooking) and for family and friends who want to take a peek into my holiday happenings. Just hang in there with me and I'll get back to "other stuff" in the coming days!

On Christmas Eve, my brother and family came out to join those who were "stuck indoors" (thank goodness for 4-wheel drive!) and we had our traditional taco bar for dinner.

left to right: Mikayla, Noah, Jacob, Austin (hiding), me, my mom, my dad

left to right: Danielle, Hunter, Jeff, Kim, Jody, Ryan

After dinner, we decided to have the cousins open their presents to each other since Christmas morning was going to be a little bit bigger because there were 2 families who would be doing their "own Christmas" on top of everything else.

Hailey opening her gift from us...she loved it!!

Mikayla was trying to get Austin out of his hiding spot to open presents

instead of opening presents,
Austin was much more interested in climbing on them

and he LOVED tissue paper!
this year Mikayla was way more into opening presents and just couldn't wait to
"open another one"...she loved helping whoever's turn it was

My Little Pony remote control scooter from Aunt Dani & Uncle Jeff...
a favorite for sure!

Mommy & Mikayla
how is she growing up so fast?

Mikayla really showed her appreciation for the gifts she got

she made me so proud by saying "thank you" after opening each one

my mom started a new tradition to give the grandkids jammies
Noah says that Kayla is his best friend...
they are so cute playing together!

girls gotta stick together

Mikayla is glad that Hailey came along...
she loves her baby cousin

Have no fear...Christmas Day will be coming next!

Christmas family fun - part one

I'm working on catching up and getting back to some sort of's taking me longer than I expected.

We had a great time this last week spending time with family! Last Tuesday morning, we headed to my parents' house a little earlier than expected due to the crazy and unusual "Arctic Blast". It took us an hour to get from our home to theirs when it usually only takes 20 minutes. However, slow and steady got us there safe and with no dents.

My parents have a fairly steep and long gravel driveway that only a few drive on, so we had to meet my dad at the bottom of the hill, and then we transferred all of our stuff from our van to his 4-wheel drive suburban (with chains!) so we could make it up the hill. I closed my eyes the whole way...I'm such a chicken! Ryan drove back into Newberg and we kept our car at my brother's house, and then my brother drove Ryan back out to my parents' house. After it was all done and we were all safe (and warm), we hunkered down for some family fun over the next 5 days.

Christmas Eve Day -

After lunch on Christmas Eve, we made a gingerbread house that we had picked up before vacation in hopes of doing it sometime earlier. I'm glad we hadn't done it yet and decided to bring it along because it ended up being a great activity for the kids, especially my 8-year old nephew. While Jacob helped me decorate the gingerbread house, the two toddlers got to decorate the cookies that came along with it.

Mikayla says, "bring on the cookies!"

hard at work!
every now and then you'd see them sneak a candy or two into their mouths

of course, they each got to eat one cookie...
don't you just love food coloring?

and the other two cookies were for Santa

Jacob helping make the gingerbread house
Meet Silly, Sillier, & Silliest...
these three had a blast together over the 4 days we were there

the finished product
And while the "big kids" were busy going sugar crazy, the "little ones" were playing on their own...

Austin - 15 months

Hailey - 6 months

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

come on in and stay awhile

Welcome to my home for Christmas!

I haven't had many guests this Christmas season due to a week long vacation and being snowed in for the past NINE days, (yes, I said NINE...ok, I guess there was a little break for 2 days or so, but still!)

There are so many amazing things that I love about Christmas and decorating my home is one of them. So, I thought I would invite you on in for a little tour with me just for the fun of it! I've got some peanut butter cup cookies and peppermint bark to be enjoyed and I'll even make you a cup of hot chocolate. (Boy, am I missing my holiday visitors.)

After walking through the front door, this is the first thing you might see...

Or you might be looking across the living room at this...

Or it's possible that you may be looking at this...

Our house has a very open floor plan.

On top of the fireplace, is this...
I was hoping to be able to put our Christmas tree hunting picture in here to go with the theme of the trees, but no such luck this year. If you haven't seen our "it will do" tree yet, check it out here.

One of my favorites...
Which, surprisingly neither of the kids have touched! They might be getting the hang of this no thing after all.

Next to our phone is a snowman Christmas countdown (we also have a Christmas countdown advent calendar that my mom made for us hanging behind our front door) and a place to put all of my Christmas cards I get in the mail. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE going to the mail at Christmas time?! It seriously is one of the highlights of my day (and more so this past week, since we haven't been out much). And, today, did not disappoint. We had 7 Christmas greetings waiting for us! Check back after Christmas for a quick peak at what I do with the photo cards we receive each year.

We'll finish off the tour with my snowmen collection on top of the bookcase. I've been collecting these little goodies throughout the years. And this bookcase is way out of reach of curious little fingers, but still visible to the adult eye, so that people can take a look. I try to find one (or two!) snowman that I can add each year.

Left side...

Right side...
And, here is the rest of my decor scattered here and there...
Thanks for coming over. And just think you didn't have to fight 14 inches of snow to do it.

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Ryan shoveled the driveway yesterday and today we're chaining up (with a van load of presents, clothes, food, and who knows what else!) and driving the 10 or so miles to my parents' house to stay the night for the next few days. The weatherman says that today will be the "best day" and then more snow will be coming our way again on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. So, we thought we would head out earlier and just have an extended family get together. Thankfully, my sister and her family drove down from Tacoma, WA on Saturday before it really got too crazy or else we would not be spending Christmas together. It should be an interesting next couple of days with all of us crammed under one roof (6 adults, an 8-year old, 2 toddlers, a 1-year old, and an infant...yikes!), but I'm looking forward to being able to be with family.

There won't be any internet, but I'm bringing a long a few "old school" projects that I've been wanting to do like organize recipes, write in the baby book, and organize my craft idea binder. Plus, we're going to be doing a lot of relaxing. No cleaning the house, doing laundry, or whatever else I find that occupies my time. I'm just going to BE. I think I need that.

Merry Christmas and be safe, warm, and happy!

Head on over to The Lazy Organizer to see what others are talking about only 2 days before Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

this is getting ridiculous!

Dear Santa,

I'm good with the snow.


Love, Mikayla



Sunday, December 21, 2008

why not do some baking...

Today marks ONE WEEK since this winter weather has hit us here in Oregon. There are so many words to describe this snowy wonderland like beautiful and peaceful, but I'm going crazy!! Am I the only one feeling trapped?? I know, I'm being a wimp.

So, while it's doing this outside...
I'm doing a little bit of baking inside.

The morning started out with church being canceled since there was a good 1/2-inch layer of ice on top of already 7 or more inches of snow. We weren't going anywhere.

I decided I wanted some muffins, so I checked out All Recipes and found some that looked good and they were definitely good. So, I thought I would share...

**I'm writing out the recipe here since I usually read the reviews and then make the recipe "my own", but feel free to follow this link for the actual recipe.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Muffin Batter:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Place pumpkin mixture in muffin cups about 1/2 full. Make a well in each muffin for the filling.

1 (8-oz) package cream cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. brown sugar

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until soft (do not overbeat). Add egg, vanilla, and brown sugar. Beat until smooth.

Add 1 Tbsp. of cream cheese mixture right in the middle of each muffin, trying to keep the cream cheese from touching the paper cup.

Streusel Topping:

**I doubled the topping, but most of the muffins spilled out of the cup. I thought it was worth it because I love that crunchy top layer of the muffin!
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
5 Tbsp. white sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp. butter

In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly.

Sprinkle streusel topping on top of the muffin.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Makes 18-22 muffins.

Yumminess!! If you don't have a lot of time and aren't in the mood for a lot of clean up, this isn't the recipe for you, but it was well worth the wait (and the dishes!)

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But my baking frenzy didn't stop there.

My friend, Sarri, is having a Christmas Cookie Recipe Exchange over at her blog, and I wanted to join the party!

Again, using the trusty All Recipes site, I found a mouth watering cookie recipe. We didn't have ONE main ingredient, but my amazing husband walked to Safeway in the crunchy snow (with Mikayla on his shoulders) to get me the beloved...

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Brace yourself...this is a good one.

If you would like the original recipe and not "my own" (which I didn't change much with this one), follow this link.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup butter, softened (I used butter shortening)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. milk
40 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped (place in freezer)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
3. Cream together the butter, sugar, peanut butter, and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and milk. Add the flour mixture; mix well.
4. Place in refrigerator for an hour or so (not necessary, but helps with next step)
5. Shape into 40 balls and place each into an ungreased muffin pan.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes (no more). Remove from oven and let set for 1-2 minutes. 7. Press a frozen peanut butter cup into each ball.
8. Cool (about 5 minutes) and carefully remove from pan.

I used a mini muffin pan like the original directions stated (on the left in the picture below), but they turned out looking like mini muffins, which were cute, but didn't look like a cookie. So, I used a regular muffin pan (on the right in the picture below) and they turned out more like a cookie. I'm sure you could even just put them on a cookie sheet, too.

The recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies, and you might want to have a plan of who are giving these to, or you might be in for a tummy ache!

And, if you're looking for the recipe for the Peppermint Bark I made earlier this week for my neighbors, follow this link, but I would recommend if you wanted to make quite a bit than you should probably double the white chocolate chips. You can also use 12 candy canes in place of the peppermint candies. I'll be making another batch of this soon, since I gave it all to the neighbors!

want to guess what this is?

Yep! That would be the leftovers of two of Mikayla's presents that suspiciously were opened this morning. And it's not Christmas morning.

While I was cleaning up after breakfast and Ryan was getting ready, the kids were "quietly playing". Of course that always raises a red flag when I can't hear what they are doing and there is no fussing going on. I went back to my bedroom and the door was locked, so I used the key to open it and what do I find? My sweet darling daughter holding her package of Dora blocks in her hand and saying, "I like it."

I froze. In confusion. Didn't I just wrap that last night? And wasn't it hidden? Then I saw the wrapping paper remnants and another present that had been opened. Through tears (hers, not mine, although I was close) I tried explaining to her that these are NOT her toys (sorry, I had to lie) and that she shouldn't open presents that are wrapped. (She did say at one point that Austin did it, but I'm sure they both had a hand in it.) After composing herself, all of the sudden she said "Happy Birthday everybody!" Awww, isn't that just like a two-year old to turn a frustrated mommy to laughter?

And, yes, I will re-wrap the presents (in different paper) and put them up higher this time. These 2 presents were supposed to be from Santa, so we'll see how I can make that work now.

I bet you're glad this isn't a post about the "surprise" we found in Austin's crib when he woke up this morning. Let's just say we had to do a load of wash and despite having a bath last night, he needed another one this morning. Yuck.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

slip, sleddin' away

Tomorrow (Sunday) will mark 1 week of this unusual winter weather (for the Pacific NW). However, there have been a few breaks in the week and I even managed to make it to the outlets and Costco on Thursday to get out of the house.

Today, after waking up to more snow, we decided it was time to go out and play. Since Ryan was home, I was way more willing to bundle up two little ones because I had help. So, after lunch we all put on our snow gear (I was thankful that I actually had some for the kids) and headed down the neighborhood to a spot with some hills. We tried a smaller one first, then kept walking and tried out another area, and then finally found one that had quite a few people playing and having fun.

I thought it would be fun to share some pics of our little "daredevil". After her first slide down with dad, she wanted to do it all by herself (big shocker!). Austin was content just sitting there watching. Austin and I ended up heading home a little early, but Mikayla wanted to stay and sled some more. When she and Ryan walked through the door, she was complaining of cold toes, so we warmed them up in some of mommy's socks and then made graham crackers and frosting with red and green sprinkles. I think she had completely forgotten about her toes at that point.

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