Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Charlie Brown Christmas

We watch a lot of movies as a family, but particularly during Christmas time. Recently Miss Mia has began requesting certain movies, but really likes a few Christmas movies. She particularly likes I Want A Dog for Christmas Charlie Brown & Charlie Brown's Christmas.

So channeling Charlie Brown, Miss Mia and I decided to decorate the one very small and quiet sad tree in our front yard for Christmas.

Here is Miss Mia with our finished product! The expression is her asking where did the birds go. (Many many geese were flying over our heads while we decorated.)

Today we leave for Texas to spend time with my family for the holidays. Before we leave, however, we have a lot to do. I have to finish wrapping the last minute gifts that we bought on sale last night, take the dog to the kennel (aka puppy camp), finish cleaning the house (laundry, bedding, vacuuming etc) & then go to Miss Mia's Christmas party at her Mother's Day Out.

Since Miss Mia is having her party, I had to dress her in something cute & festive.
This was the dress that we chose. She is pointing for the rest of her breakfast. Mean Mommy made her take a picture while she was trying to finish her breakfast.

Wondering what she's going to get at her party today...will Drew-Drew kiss me under the mistletoe? = )

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tis the season to be baking!

It will come as no surprise that I love to bake. It is also no surprise that almost every gift I get from people at Christmas goes in my kitchen. I get an alarming number of Williams Sonoma gift cards. This brings my heart so much happiness, I can hardly stand it!

This Christmas has already been in keeping with the traditions of my gifts helping me in the kitchen. Hubby, Miss Mia and I decided to open gifts early as a family since we would be with my family during Christmas, and with his family over New Years. True to tradition, Hubby got me cooking accessories. The difference, however, was that I had forgotten that I had ever mentioned wanting these things.

My gifts come from the kitchens of Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson. Two of my favorite women!! If I could somehow combine the two--that lady would be unstoppable! From Martha, I recieved her alphabet cookie cutters, which Miss Mia & I have already tested. They work really well. Then from the Nigella Lawson Living kitchen, I got these beyond beautiful measuring cups. Seriously, how beautiful are these? They look like little pieces of art in my kitchen!

I had totally forgotten about these cups. Yesterday, while waiting for my ladies Bible study to begin, I was pursing the books at Barnes & Nobles and happened upon Nigella's Christmas cookbook. True to form, it was beyond beautiful--elegantly written, beautifully photographed & mouth-watering. I only had half an hour to devour the book, but I got some really good ideas. Oh, and did I mention that while I was reading the book, I was sipping on a Starbucks Peppermint Hot Chocolate? I think that one of their ingredients might be some sort of addicting drug..I would have so gone back for seconds if I had another coupon. (Shameful, yes, but delicious, even more so!)

So let me leave you with one of my favorite Nigella recipes. I use this so often that I have it memorized. You will love this sauce! Put it on everything! I have even used it in a fondue pot at a party and we dipped fruit & other yummies into it!

Nigella's Sticky Toffee Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Serving suggestion: Vanilla Ice Cream


Put the sugar, syrup and butter in a pan and slowly bring to the boil, allowing the butter to melt and the sugar to dissolve. Let the mixture bubble for a couple of minutes before carefully adding the cream. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce is thick, sticky and glossy.

Serve with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, December 14, 2009

11 days...

Only 11 days until Christmas. I am so excited, I as you can tell from the picture above, so is Miss Mia! I thought I'd provide you with an update on my advent calender "wish list" of things to do this holiday season.
So far we have:
-Exchanged a few gifts
-Made hot chocolate and home-made marshmallows
-Put up a sash for Christmas cards
-Made a gingerbread house (See previous post for the final product!)
-Listened and sang along with Dean Martin Christmas carols..(this might be my favorite thing!)
-Drove around to look at neighborhood lights
-Opened a gift (Target giftcard..which I promptly went and spent! Thank you Grandma & Grandpa K!)
-Made a traditional family dessert (Hubby's mother makes fabulous Christmas cookies with hershey kisses in the middle. I experimented this year with the various flavors of kisses, and after MUCH research, I concluded that the Melt-aways are the BEST!)
-Exchanged ornaments with the family. (This is a tradition Hubby & I started before he was Hubby. This year we let Miss Mia even select ornaments for us to be from her. )
-Watched a seasonal movie (I have yet to watch Meet Me in St. Louis, but I think we've watched Elf at least 3 times, and watched The Santa Claus with Miss Mia and Polar Express.)

I have yet to get my Christmas Cards out, which is horrible, but I will this week. We finally took Miss Mia's pictures in her Christmas dress. When we finish the card, I'll post it, but as of now, its a work in progress!
So we still have a few more things to do before Christmas, but the best news is that school is officially done for me until mid-January. Now I get the next month to sit and read and study in the relatively quite library with all the students gone home for the holiday. Then I can return home to my family and listen to "Baby Its Cold Outside." (And you're living in Oklahoma and Texas, it has been strangely cold early this season!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

While I was pursuing the deals at Target, yesterday- I found the gingerbread house kits on sale for $8. I thought that Miss Mia would love all the candy and the house, but what I did not anticipate is how much Hubby would enjoy the project!
She found that eating the candy was way more fun than putting anything on the house. Mr. Landscape Architect really enjoyed landscaping the house with gum drops.
Miss Mia did give up the mini-balls to Hubby. She enjoyed pulling out all the "circles."
The two posing with their beautiful creation!
Eating the last few pieces of candy!
Close up of the house! Isn't it cute?

Monday, December 7, 2009

A moment of Bliss

Today was such an amazing day. It all started out so simply and ended as one of the best nights ever. I went to my Bible study this afternoon with two of the most amazing ladies. Each week we give each other new challenges, and after I discussed my need to read something that was not related to my Comprehensive Exams, they challenged me to read one fun book. This would appear to not be the hardest of challenges, but I have such a hard time not doing work. Tonight, however, I decided to take the girls up on their challenge and read for pleasure.

So I chose to read Bella Tuscany, the sequel to Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. I had forgotten how amazing her books are and how she writes in a way where I can smell the olive trees, taste the cheeses, and hear the sounds of chatter in the plazas. So I took the night off from studying, cleaned up from a delicious supper, and decided that I really need to read whilst taking a bubble bath. I had one last Bath Fizzy (from last Christmas) to use. Then with a few candles and some classical music, I embarked on the most perfect of evenings.

The more I read her striking prose on the wonders of refurbishing an Italian villa to the ways to cook various forms of wild asparagus, I long for my feet to stand on Italian soil.

I found this picture this evening of a fellow blogger who took her picture in front of Mayes' famous wall in front of her villa, Bramasole. Bramasole, could their be a more perfect name? To yearn for the sun

A via/strada in Cortona. How perfect is this place? So excited to finish this book and maybe even read a few more non-history based books over the holidays.