Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

Our New Year's Eve celebrations have become stay-at-home occasions over the last few years.

But we always celebrate!

This year we had a friend from church over to spend the evening...and we had a delicious meal of appetizers (LOTS of cheese) and fondue for dessert. My friend Missy made an amazing artisan bread bowl (full of spinach dip, of course) and as soon as I get the recipe and try it out, I'll share it here. It was so very yummy.

This year was the first year the kiddos had sparkling grape juice.
They loved every single drop.
I think they felt extra special since they got to use our small wine glasses.

It's the little things, you know.

Madeleine downed her glass so fast, I was sure she would feel sick afterwards. (I used to always get a stomachache if I drank too much sparkling grape juice growing up. Still do. But mmm...that is yummy stuff.) But she was fine. And full of sugary energy just before bedtime. :)

As for the adults, as the midnight hour drew near, we toasted in the New Year with Mango Bellinis...
Hope you had a happy evening too!

P.S. One of my very dearest friends gets to celebrate her birthday on this special day! Happy Happy Happy Birthday Shawna! Love you!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just twirl.

This moment is one I'll treasure:

Hadleigh walked up to me looking a bit like a tiny Miss Claus, wearing our tree skirt that fit her perfectly. (It was right after we'd decorated the tree...but not before the skirt was put to use!)

She was so cute...with that excited little smile she gets when she has done something she thinks I'm going to find adorable. That sparkle in her eyes...the one that rivals the Christmas tree.

And then she twirled...
and twirled...
and twirled.
And for a moment, I slowed down to capture these precious moments. My precious daughter.

Despite the flurry of activity that filled this December, I'm glad I paused here and there to delight in simple, fleeting moments like taking the time to twirl.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Luke 2:14
From our family to yours, may you have a blessed Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Visions of Sugarplums...

Sugarplum Fairies, that is.

A few years ago, I bought this Nutcracker Ballet Paper Dolls Book.

The illustrations and paper dolls are beautiful. Magical...and quite similar to images of my own memories of growing up attending the Nutcracker in Asheville, NC.

In preparation for our trip to the Nutcracker in Tulsa this year, I pulled out the Nutcracker book a few days early. We set up the triple stage book and the children got right to work playing.

Nathanael in the Land of the Sweets...
Madeleine in the enchanted forest with all those lovely snowflakes...

And Hadleigh, enjoying the party and battle scenes and characters.

They were all so excited about the performance...
(not the best picture...but the best I could do with the lens I had!)
Nathanael loved the Mouse King and toy soldiers the most. (Big surprise!)

Madeleine loved the pink ballerinas. (and she did quite well, up until the last 20 minutes. It was, after all, technically her naptime.)

And Hadleigh loved the waltz of the flowers the best.

I'm so thankful we were able to go as a family this year. What a special memory it will always be.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Every where you go...

it looks a little like Christmas inside our house.

From the glowing snowmen the children love to light for dinnertime... (and Hadleigh wants us to eat entirely by those two tiny tealights. Oh my.)

to the kids favorite decoration: our candy cane villages.
It's soft, touchable ornaments hung close to the ground (so our friend "Baby" Luke as the kiddos told me can play with them when he comes over.)
And room trees for the kiddos...a pink and green tree that still feels new to the girls
and an aging little tree that keeps on shining...from dorm rooms to apartments to each home we've lived in. Now enjoying new ornaments with Nathanael!
Lots of cold weather and even more fires...but no snow on the horizon. We're still hoping.
It's a sparkling tree shining with memories
that has a beautiful new star on top. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
It's seeing reminders of Who this celebration is all our growing collection of nativities. This one that I painted over several years...

to these lovingly made...but maybe not quite so wise-looking...wisemen. :)
More peeks to come!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

O Christmas Tree

Since we were out of town over Thanksgiving weekend, we picked out our tree on the 1st.
The kiddos were giddy about going to the tree lot.

And I don't blame them. What could be more fun that running through rows of spicy smelling trees, with those happy lights illuminating the paths in the darkness? (There is something about Christmas tree lots that makes me really happy. Not as happy as a Christmas tree farm...where I grew up going to pick out a tree...but almost.)

This sweet man comes every December from Wisconsin (or Minnesota maybe), lives in his camper, and sells trees and wreaths and maple syrup. He has become a part of our Christmas traditions here in Oklahoma.

And this next picture made my night, since it's the first one EVER without someone crying or squirming away from our traditional at the treelot picture.

This year, we got two for our living room and a pint-sized one for the kitchen. Hadleigh carried it in from the car by herself, to our surprise and laughter.

This year was the first that the children were very eager to help in ANY way they could. Like unwrapping the twinkle lights. Daddy may or may not have said it would be the last time to unwrap them too. :)

I hardly had to put on any ornaments this year. Initially.

However, too many ornaments from 4 feet and down (especially on those very bottom branches) may have resulted in redistribution after bedtime. :)
But they had a ball and that is what I will remember about our tree this year.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick note to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

(An old picture but one of my all-time Thanksgiving favorites!)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Still thankful...two weeks later

I am thankful for...

Nov. 8-14:

8. the smell of clean floors and a clean house
9. precious dear friends coming to visit us...we miss you Sullivan family!
10. pumpkin scones fresh from the oven
11. those men and women who sacrifice so very much for our freedom
12. talks with friends late into the night (and a girls weekend!)
13. beginning the day in front of a fire with friends and a cup of tea
14. Sunday morning snuggles as a family

and this past week:

15. helpful neighbors
16. a kind and unexpected gift
17. peace in the midst of the unknown
18. a special lunch just with my daughters
19. finding a friend with whom you share so many "little things" (as well as big things) in common
20. the excitement of completing a big project
21. the desire of a little boy to give to others

Colossian 3:16 (above in the picture) is a verse that I will pondering this week...that I hope to be living out this week...that I plan on memorizing this week as a family...this week that we gather together to be thankful.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

a thankful heart

I've seen lots of "thankful" posts around the internet lately. And then I stumbled across an old acquaintance's new blog. (a very happy surprise!) Scarlet has a 30 days of gratitude project on her blog, and I thought I would join in.

My plan is to post each Sunday with seven things I'm thankful for from the previous week.

I am thankful for:

1. Soup and sweater weather. The chill in the air that lets me know summer is over. Winter is on the horizon. But for now, the weather is perfectly ideal.

2. Finding new dinner recipes that make everyone in the family happy. And making some forgotten favorites new again!

3. Conversations with old friends and new friends that seem like old ones. :) So thankful for the blessing and gift of friendship.

4. Hadleigh's excitement over being able to read the first page out of a book she picked off her shelf. She is really catching on...and learning so much.

5. Seeing my little boy enjoy things that his Daddy woodworking. They built a pirate ship together (a kit from Lowe's) in the midst of Daddy's big project...a hutch for my scrapbooking desk.

6. Handfuls of the last of summer's flowering weeds from Madeleine. Showing her how to preserve them by pressing them between the pages of a favorite book of poetry.

7. The blessing of a gifted pastor and teacher of God's Word. A lot to think about from this morning's sermon on Psalm 25.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

In the mail...

It never fails...just as November begins, our mailbox fills with holiday catalogs. (The above is what was collected in about 10 days. And these were just the ones I saved to flip through.) Clothing...decor...craft/toys/educational stuff. I like the ones that give me ideas for decorating with things we already have and love (like Pottery Barn/Ballards)...and ones that inspire me by their design and styling (like Garnet Hill and Anthropologie).

But aside from enjoying the ideas, I think the companies need to slow down a bit. One store catalog for the season is just enough for me, thank you.

And of course, the autumn (and December) magazines are my favorites of the year. Magazines full of rich colors, beautiful table settings, and delicious comfort foods entice me every year. I enjoy getting my favorites in the mail...Southern Living, BH&G, and Victoria...but this is the season when MS Living and Real Simple get some of my attention too.

And our neighborhood, apparently delivers faux leaves too :) Hadleigh found the one above outside while playing and was delighted with her find. And I take such delight in her enjoyment of the season her mother loves SO much.

To come next week: Autumn, according to our five senses. Should be fun!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Five for Friday

Five things for today:

~Looking forward to a laid-back autumn weekend. The weather is gorgeous. I could live in autumn year-round. (Have I mentioned that before?) We have family movie night tonight with chili and a neighborhood/squadron pumpkin carving party tomorrow. Should be fun.

~Loving this scent lately: Legacy by Coach. I received a sample on my birthday while shopping. I had forgotten about it until my little girls were playing in Mommy's makeup drawer. They only got into the chapstick and the perfume. (whew!) Kinda glad they thought it was an air freshener :) because now I'm excited about it!
~Thinking about some room switches and furniture rearranging...specifically, Nathanael's room and the office. Switching them would enable us to make the office our homeschooling space as well, which I think would help us be more efficient at this stage. Maybe I'll have some new pictures for you in the next few weeks!

~Hoping to finish my fall decorating this weekend. (You know, with one month left to enjoy it!) I am usually so quick to decorate for is my favorite season and usually I pull out my stuff on September first!...but this year it just hasn't been on the top of my list. I plan on having some fun peeks around our home to share next week though!

~I have to share (mostly for my Mom!) that we had the most pleasant and successful triple trip to the dentist this morning. Usually my oldest two are pretty reluctant and stubborn about even sitting in the chair. And maybe it's age (or maybe the Starbucks treats promised for afterwards!) but today all three kiddos went in at the same time, each with their own dental hygienist, took x-rays (the older 2), had teeth cleaned, the whole nine yards WITH NO TEARS. NO RELUCTANCE. I sat in the waiting room alone and each marched out happy and smiling! And they met an equally happy and smiling Mommy.

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chocolate...for all ages

Last week was fall break for us...and combined with Daddy being on a week-long work trip, I planned for lots of fun moments to break up the monotony of our days.

One thing I had planned was plenty of sweet treats. Of course.

One of my favorite dessert treats growing up was Chocolate Clouds. Mom made these for us in my favorite sundae goblets...the kind that make you feel special! (I'm still looking for a set like my Mom's.)

I think what makes this very simple dessert even more special is knowing that my grandmother made these with my Mom. Love the ties from generation to generation.

Chocolate Clouds

Chocolate Clouds
chocolate pudding (box mix or your own homemade recipe)
1 cup (or more) whipping cream
powdered sugar
1/s tsp. vanilla
fancy clear glass dishes

1. Make pudding according to directions on package
or your recipe.
2. In a medium bowl, beat together whipping cream, powdered sugar to taste, and vanilla with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
3. Spread some whipping cream to cover the bottom and sides of each glass dish. Fill the cavity with chocolate pudding and then cover with remaining whipping cream. You don't want any chocolate to show through. You can garnish with fruit or just leave plain.
4. Enjoy!

And for the adult lover of chocolate, there's always the fashionable and yummy Chocolate Molten Cakes. I made these for the two of us when Brent got home from his trip.

Here are the cakes, out of the oven. Don't they look pretty?

And here, with sweetened whipped cream and raspberry sauce. I used this recipe from Tasty Kitchen for the cakes (a very basic but yummy recipe) and my own recipe for raspberry sauce, which follows.

An easy, pretty, and impressive dessert that you can easily make at home!

Raspberry Sauce

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 12 oz. package frozen raspberries

In a blender (or with an immersion blender, which I love!) mix all ingredients together until smooth. Place a fine sieve over a bowl and pour sauce over sieve. Press sauce through using the back of a spoon or spatula. Discard raspberry seeds.

Sauce will keep covered and refrigerated about one week. Delicious on ice cream, pancakes, waffles...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

Saturday we went to our local "pumpkin patch" (really just a side yard at a local church in the middle of a neighborhood, but you make do, you know?)

The kiddos love it. Look forward to it. For months last year following October, we would drive by the empty lot and Madeleine would say "No pumpkins, Mommy."

But on Saturday, they were ready for us.

And of course, my first priority was snapping a few pictures in the quest for the ever elusive "perfect pumpkin".
This one above was the best "posed" shot. (Why they pass out the pumpkin patch stickers at the beginning of your visit, I'll never know. They must not be camera-toting moms!)
But I LOVE the shots we got when I told them to lean in and hug each other.
And while none of them turned out perfectly (my focus was off), as Karen Russell would say, they are emotionally perfect. Real smiles. Real fun. Real life.
This little girl pulled this tee-nincy wagon behind her the whole time. Cutie.

A few close-ups:

And our prize pumpkin! (Carried by my very favorite guy!)


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