Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To Do Tuesday

Now that the holidays are wrapping up it is time to regain some sembalance of normalacy. (I don't count New Years as a holiday because I am too old and encumbered by children to go anywhere. Besides, if it's midnight and I'm not sporting a pair of sweatpants things are gonna be ugly in the morning.) This weeks list is going to focus on putting Chrismas and pretty much all of 2009 to bed.

1. Return unwanted gifts to target.
2. Wrap Sister in law's gift. She bailed on us for Christmas eve, so we drank the bottle of bourbon we originally bought for her. (Retribution is swift at the house of delinquency) Turns out she stopping by tomorrow. Good thing I had a gift in reserve.
3. Take down tree.
4. Take down other decorations.
5. Clean upstairs bathroom. This bathroom didn't get cleaned during the pre-in laws arrival sweep because my husband dropped a mercury thermometer in there and it had to be quarentined for a few days to air out. Don't ask why we had a mercury thermometer because I haven't got a good answer for that.
6. Stop eating cookies for breakfast. This should be infinately easier once I've eaten all the cookies.
7. Clear out all the pants that are too small for boy2. The poor kid is starting to resemble Urkle.
8. Call cox cable to find out why my internet is sucking hardcore.

- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Post-it note Tuesday

"Post it note Tuesday?" you say. "Isn't that just just some cheep cop-out to avoid writing a full post?"

Why yes, yes it is.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Menu plan Monday - back to normal edition

Whew. Things are getting back to normal, and that can only mean one thing - it's back to planning the menu. Here we go.....

Monday - Turkey with mole. (that's mole - the Mexican sauce, not mole-the american rodent). This will finish off the Christmas turkey.

Tuesday - Cajun red beans and rice. I made this a few weeks ago and it was a huge hit with my kids. I may try making a double batch so I can freeze some.

Thursday - Chicken lo mein. I've had a craving for this lately.

Saturday - Jambalaya and greens with bacon and black eyed peas. Traditionally black eyed peas are eaten on new years day for good luck. The greens symbolize wealth and the rice prosperity. We should be well covered for the coming year.

Christmas - the aftermath

Well, Christmas is over. The gifts are all unwrapped, the cookies are delivered, and the in-laws are on their way home. I have to admit that as much as I like christmas, I love the days after christmas even more.

The kids are enthralled with their new toys, there are tons of leftovers in the fridge and chocolate (and just about everything else) is on sale at Target.

I learned a few lessons this Christmas season.

1. Baking 16 different types of cookies is overdoing it. Next year I vow to only bake 4 different varities of cookies. Seriously. Hand to God.

2. As my kids get older, their gifts get better. My son got a rocking DS game from Santa. He has to sleep eventually and then I will have that DS.

3. When roasting a turkey make sure that you digital thermometer is set to fahrenheit not celsius. It takes a really long time for a turkey to reach an internal temperature of 180 degrees Celsius. (I realized my error around 95 degrees Celsius, so the bird wasn't a complete loss).

4. Maybe the best part of christmas is when it's all over and you can enjoy a few days off.
- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cookie baking complete

12:32. The last cookie is baked and the oven is off. Photographic evidence when I have recovered. Now... Where is the wrapping paper?

- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Baking day continues

After my computer was comondeered for gaming by my 7 year old son, I managed to finish off the chocolate cherry hazlenut bars, and the rum balls. The rum balls still need to be dipped in butter and rolled in nuts. This part is a pain in the butt. These cookies are off the list for next year.

This morning I have baked the cookie part of the peppemint mocha cookies. I still have to make the peppermint frosting, but the cookies smell pretty good on their own.

- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baking Day

After two weeks of planning, today is when the magic happens. Today is the day that all the baking begins. Here's the score so far:

As of midnight last night the following cookies were done:

Gingerbread men

Fudge (which needs to be made again since my family ate it all)

Peppermint bark


Italian Wedding Cookies (also known as nut cookies)

7:27 am - no coffee, making due with diet coke

7:58 am - First batch of molasses spice cookies in the oven

8:53 am - Last batch of Molasses Spice cookies out of the oven

9:04 am - Children requesting breakfast. Due to snowed in status all that is available is bran flakes. This development is not welcomed with enthusiasm.

9:07 am - Children are requesting cookies for breakfast.

9:08 am - Children are told absolutly not.

9:15 am - After intense negotiations, a deal has been struck involving one bowl of bran flakes and one cookie.

9:25 am - Nap time.

10:35 am - Nap is over...up next Sable cookies.

10:53 am - First batch of Sables in the oven

11:54 am - Sables finished.

Meal plan Monday

This is the snowed-in Christmas edition of menu plan Monday. Coupled with all the cookie baking this week is looking very busy. We haven't been able to get out of our subdivision for three days now, so we've been eating out of the freezer. Hopefully, I will be able to get to the grocery store tomorrow to do some shopping for Christmas dinner. So, here it is - a rather optimistic menu plan.

Monday - tamalie pie

Wednesday - Cacio e pepe. Yes, this is from last week. We had planned to go shopping on Saturday to get the cheese. That didn't happen.

Thursday - Christmas Eve. Traditionally, my in laws cook on Christmas eve. I'm prediction ham.

Friday - Christmas day. This is a big cooking day at our place, but my husband pitches in a helps a lot. Here is what we have planned.

Horseradish-Crusted Beef Tenderloin
Roast Beef Tenderloin with Dried Fruit and Nut Stuffing

Rustic Dinner Rolls

Scalloped Potatos
Green Bean Casserole
Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream

Pumpkin Cheesecake


- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Saturday, December 19, 2009

David VS. Goliath

This is David. Actually, his name is Jaden, but I'm working on a metaphor here people, so try to keep up.

Jaden is a two year old little boy. He's cute as a button too isn't he? Well, if cute could cure cancer, Jaden would be right as rain, sadly, that is not the case. Jaden is currently fighting a nasty form of cancer called metastatic neuroblastoma. While none of this is even a little fair, Jaden is fighting the cancer like a champ.

As you can imagine, the medical bills for his treatment are staggering. So last month mommy blogger and former high school classmate of mine, SupahMommy, hosted a supah auction on Ebay to raise money to help Jaden's mommy and daddy. While initially Ebay promised to waive their fees for such a good cause they have now reneged on the promise and are requesting $453.70. While this is probably a pittance to ebay it would go a long way on the hands of Jaden's folks.

Please, click over to SupahMommy's blog and find out how you can let ebay know how you feel about this.

I'll be back tomorrow with more joyful tidings and most likely pictures of snow....lots of snow.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughts on the holidays - recycled post

Things are sorta busy here....what with the cookie baking, snow shoveling, kid wrangling, snow shoveling and gift wrapping....and did I mention that we're getting a bit of snow....

Since I'm a big believer in recycling....here is a previously written - but still applicable - post about the holiday season. Enjoy, and I promise new content tomorrow.....probably with pictures of snow.


Well, my friends, Thanksgiving is now safely behind us. I can't say as I'm sorry to see it go either. As I may have mentioned, I have developed a new found loathing for turkey day. As I was mashing the potatoes and trussing the turkey, I got to thinking about my Scrooginess. I determined that, in reality, the average person is set up to fail when it comes to the big holidays. Let me tell you why.
  1. The work load - Holidays, be they thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah (I'm actually guessing about the last two, but it seems like a safe assumtion) are a lot of work. As a kid your list of responsibilities pretty much begins and ends will writing a little note to Santa. As you get older you are expected to shop, cook, wrap, decorate....the list goes on. I, for one, an not big into work, so the added load sorta bums me out.
  2. The Family - Let's face it, we don't all get along with our families. Even if we do get along with them, you can have too much of a good thing.
  3. The Expectations - Add to the previous two items, the fact that everything is supposed to be perfect. I mean look at what we have to aspire to, such theatrical gems as "White Christmas", "Holiday Inn", "Christmas in Connecticut", and "Miracle on 42nd Street". I mean are you kidding me?? I can barely get my kids to wear matching socks, and yet I'm expected to break out in song with a choreographed dance number while baking gingerbread men?
So for the above reasons, I propose that holidays are impossible to enjoy. I, for one, intend to combat the over perfectification of Christmas. I will expect to screw it up!! I will accept that my family is going to drive me crazy. I will eschew the singing and dancing cinematic vision of Christmas. Give me realistic christmas fare!! Give me movies where the Chrismas turkey is stollen by rabid dogs, the Christmas tree bursts into flames and houses rabid squirrels, and finally allow the local police to open fire on a mall santa on my front stoop on Christmas Eve!!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I have a confession to make. I do not have a budget. Well, I suppose technically I have one, my financial planner makes me draw one up. I scribble a few numbers down invasion sheet of paper and then completely forget about it. The money guy then uses, what is essentially a complete fabrication, to determine our entire financial plan for the year. This is probably not an ideal situation.

One of my goals for the new year is to get on some sort of budget. I'm going to start small, probably just the groceries since that is where most of our discressionary income goes anyway. So how do i get started? Do I just pick a dollar amount and try to stay under it every month? How do I keep track? How do I get my husband on board? I know that there are a ton of budget minded mamas out there, give a girl a clue!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday To Do List - Epic Fail

Last week's to do list was almost a total failure. I only got about 6 of ten things done. I'm going to try to improve on this week's list. Here it is...some of it may look familiar.

To Do Tuesday 12/15

1. Address and mail Christmas cards
2. Cookie dough - 4 batches
3. Biscotti
4. Get prints for photo wall
5. Fix termite damage around the door
6. Clean off table
7. Finish brownie jars
8. Peppermint bark
9. Mail in rebate offrs
10. Finish Sweater sleeves

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Meal plan Monday 12/14

Hey!! It's meal plan Monday again!!

Here it is:

Sunday - peppers stuffed with spiced lamb and currants. This is such a great meal because it's all in one. There is a veggie, a grain and a protein all packed inone easy dinner. AND it makes left-overs. I think I'm in love.

Tuesday - Meatloaf with mac and cheese. A perennial favorite amongst the under 10 set here at the house of delinquency. The meatloaf is coming from the freezer and the mac and cheese is easy to make from scratch.

Thursday - Crockpot beef stew provincial. A little variation of standard beef stew.

Saturday - Cacio e pepe. This is just a fancy way of saying spaghetti with Parmesan cheese and pepper.

Last week there was a request for the fish stew recipe. Nearly all of my recipes originate from Cook's Illustrated. I would post the recipe, but I'm afraid of violating copyright. I do encourage you to visit their web site and consider purchasing a subscription!

Note: I receive no compensation from Cook's Illustrated, however, if they would like to send me something, I'll take a signed 8x10 glossy of Christopher Kimball and some maple syrup.

- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Sleep deprivation

For the past three night we have been trying to convince Boy3 to sleep in his own bed. Through a devious plan involving sleep deprivation, terminal cuteness and biological warfare he has brought me to my knees and I am waving the white flag of surrender.

Clearly, I can't sleep while he is awake. Coupled with his uncanny ability to detect the presence of a crib mattress anywhere in the vicinity of his butt have resulted in three consecutive sleepless nights. My attempts to lull him to sleep through nursing are thwarted because all the nursing causes his diaper to fill and results in my getting peed on somewhere around 3am. The resulting diaper change does little to foster a quiet soothing environment.

I finally realized that he had won the war last night around hour 63 of sleep deprivation when I found myself wishing that he would just grow up and sleep by himself. But really, the last thing I want is for him to grow up, I would, in fact, prefer he stay a baby forever. Sleep deprivation and frustration were doing ugly things to our relationship.

Boy3 will be back in bed with me tonight. I suspect that we will both get a much needed night of excellent sleep as well as a serious reminder of where our priorities lay.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I remember a lot of my dreams. Most of them are complete nonsense and, fact is, I'm not really the type of person to put much stock in dream interpretation. The dream I had last night however....well it doesn't take a genius to figure this one one.

It all started with me in the car driving the kids somewhere...nothing odd there, except that I was steering from the passenger seat. (I don't know who was pressing the gas....maybe the cruise control was on.) Eventually, I decided that I should get into the drivers seat, but as soon as I did (and before I could put on my seat belt) I hit a puddle and the car started to spin around. I've been in an accident where the car spun around and it ended pretty quickly....but this dream spin just wouldn't quit. At first I was scared, not so much for myself, but for the kids. (Damn...I'm pretty selfless in my dreams.) But soon (still spinning) I decided that I better do something. I put on my seat belt (still spinning) and tried to regain control of the car. I kept traveling down the road (Still spinning) but couldn't stop the car. Eventually, the car stopped spinning and came to a stop at a red light, facing in the right direction and we all were completely unscathed and able to get on with our day.

So I guess everything is going to work out just fine....though I'm getting a little dizzy from all the spinning.

Going Organic??

The writer of a blog that I sometimes read has recently announced that she is taking up a campaign of "clean eating". This means that she is swearing off anything that isn't organic, and all natural. She has completely cleaned out her kitchen of all refined sugars, preservatives, and white rice. Now, let me be clear. I fully respect this decision. I think that it's great that she, or anyone, is choosing to improve their diet.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure that I could never do it. The woman in question is single, has no children and (I'm assuming here) has an income adequate to afford the increased cost of clean eating. My kids really seem to enjoy preservatives and refined sugar and all that "unclean" food. (Full disclosure.....so do I). I'm pretty sure if the fruit snacks, Cheetos and cocoa pebbles suddenly disappeared from our pantry my children would either stage a coup or just move in with their grandparents.

So here is the question....Do you think that "clean eating" is possible for those of us with kids and husbands (and taste buds...haha...kidding...). If you manage to eat clean at your house how do you do it? Did you start when your kids were little so that they just don't know what they are missing? How much more expensive is it for you to feed your family exclusively from the organic section? How do you avoid the pitfalls of birthday parties and playdate snacks?

Please .... fill me in!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To Do Tuesday - 12/8

Okay, it's Tuesday, time for the to do list.

1. Ship gifts
2. Make 4 batches of Christmas cookie dough - this will keep me nicely on the battle plan
3. Get prints for photo wall
4. Take cat to the vet
5. Fix termite damage around the door - I don't want to talk about this, it's too traumatic.
6. Clean off table - Now that the photo wall is up I have no excuses.
7. Finish brownie jars
8. Buy bra for party - stupid strapless, low back dress.
9. Mail in rebate offers
10. Return stuff to target and michaels

Last weeks list was very nearly a complete success. I got everything except one load of laundry done. And in my defense, it is folded just not distributed.

I'm getting going with my Christmas preps this week. Hopefully by planning ahead I can suffer from only minor bouts of psychosis insted of a full on mental breakdown.

- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Monday, December 7, 2009

I'm always amused at what sorts of google searches land folks at my blog. My favorite so far has to be "planning my attack for Christmas cookies". I'm sorry to say, that the visitor from Little Rock didn't find much guidance here. When I see a need I want to fill it. (I'm just that kind of girl.) So, I present, my 2009 Christmas Cookie Battle Plan.

First, the objective. Every Christmas, I make an extensive array of Christmas goodies. Many are standards, but I try a few new ones every year. Here is this years list:

Molasses Spice Cookies
Nut Crescent Cookies
Gingerbread Cookies
Chocolate-Cherry Bar Cookies with Hazelnuts
Chocolate Butter Cookies
Sable Cookies

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

Tallahassee Lassies

Italian Rum Balls

Pumpkin Whoopi Pies

Peanut Butter fudge

Chocolate walnut fudge

peppermint bark


Background info:

Several of the cookies can be made well in advance. Both types of fudge will actually improve if they are allowed to "cure" for a week or two in an air tight container. The Biscotti is a very hard, dry cookie that is virtually indestructible and can last for a month. The peppermint bark does fairly well in an air tight container in the fridge (not freezer). These four will be made well in advance, probably during the second week of December.

The dough for many of the other cookies can be made in advance and kept in the freezer. I make the dough, portion it into whatever shape makes sense (balls for drop type cookies, disks that will thaw quickly and roll out easily for cut outs) and freeze them on baking sheets. Once frozen, I can put them into freezer bags to save space. I always mark baking instructions on the bag.

The following dough can be made and portioned ahead of time:

Molasses Spice Cookies
Gingerbread Cookies
Chocolate Butter Cookies
Sable Cookies

The nut crescents can last about 5 days if stored in an air tight container, so they can be made a day or two in advance. The Macaroons are fairly fragile, and go down hill pretty fast. I will make them last.

The remaining cookies:

Chocolate-Cherry Bar Cookies with Hazelnuts
Peppermint Mocha Cookies

Tallahassee Lassies

Italian Rum Balls

Pumpkin Whoopi Pies

are new to me, so I'm going to have to give them some thought.

The bar cookies are essentially a butter cookie with chocolate and hazelnuts on top. The dough should be just fine in the freezer and they will likely last at least 5 days after being topped.

The Peppermint Mocha Cookies will also be fine if the dough is made ahead. The frosting will be okay in the fridge for at least a week. Once frosted, however, the cookies will need to be served or given in away ASAP.

The Pumpkin Whoopi Pies have quite a bit of pumpkin in the dough, but also a lot of fats and flour. I think that the dough will be okay in the freezer, but the pumpkin content worries me a little. As for the filling, it is nearly all fats and sugar and should be fine in the fridge for a week.

The rum balls are another one where the dough should be okay, but the inclusion of the rum is a little worrisome. Again, these will need to be glazed shortly before serving.

Finally there are the Tallahassee Lassies. These are made in muffin tins and consist of a soft cookie base covered with a butterscotch filling. Since I really don't have much experience with these, the butterscotch will be made just before serving, but the dough should be ok in the freezer.

The Plan:

Ok, so how is all of this going to come together? Lets assume that I want my cookie trays to be ready for December 23.

Week of December 6 - Make freezable doughs for:

Molasses Spice Cookies

Gingerbread Cookies
Chocolate Butter Cookies
Sable Cookies
Chocolate-Cherry Bar Cookies with Hazelnuts

Week of December 13 - Make freezable doughs for:

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

Tallahassee Lassies
Italian Rum Balls
Pumpkin Whoopi Pies

Make Fudge, pepermint bark and biscotti

December 20 - make frosting for Peppermint Mocha Cookies

make nut crescents

December 21 - make filling for Pumpkin Whoopi Pies

make any dough that was missed, bake immediately

December 22 - Bake frozen cookies

top Chocolate-Cherry Bar Cookies with Hazelnuts

December 23 - finish baking frozen cookies

Make macaroons

fill, frost and coat required cookies.

So, there you have it. It may seem daunting, but if you break it down, and have reasonable expectations you can make an amazing array of holiday goodies. And remember, if you just can't get to all your cookies it's ok. Don't let one or two (or even 9 or 10) cookies ruin you holiday. If you feel yourself getting too stressed about it all remember that nearly every grocery store has a bakery over flowing with cookies for the buying!

Meal Planning Monday

It's meal planning Monday again so let's get right to it.

Sunday - Chicken and rice casserloe with chilies, corn and, Black beans. This is a favorite at our house. We make a triple batch of this and freeze two batches. This means that when the madness if Christmas finally overtakes me and I am carried off to the funny farm, my family will still have a hot meal.

Tuesday - Slow cooker ground beef chili. Chili and crock pot cooking. What's not to love?

Thursday - Fish stew. I alrady have the stock and the flavor base for this ready in the freezer. All I have to do is add the fish.

Saturday - Spanish tortilla. This is a cross between an omlette and a fritatta. I don't know why it's called a tortilla. It is also a good way to use up my free eggs.

Lynn, over at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures, is putting me to shame by planning not only dinner, but lunch and breakfast as well!! I'm not quite up to that level yet, but I am going to try out her Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal. My family will be astounded by a mid-week hot breakfast!!

- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas weekend #1

It's the first weekend in December and the Christmas planning is on full swing.

So far I'm off to a roaring start. I have purchased nearly all of my Christmas gifts. The only gift left to buy is for my sister-in-law and her husband. They have a boat, so I'm thinking something boat related, but beyond that I have no clue. Of any of my readers are boat owners, I'm open to suggestions.

We went to my husband's company's kid's Chrismas party yesterday. There are crafts and games. (Boy2 won an enormous candy cane). Santa makes an appearance for photos. (This particular Santa not only looks the part, but seems exceptionally jolly). There is a kid friendly lunch of pizza and chicken tenders capped off by a well appointed make your own sundae bar. It Is a really nice event, and we are lucky that my husband has such a great employer.

Between all the partying and shopping I even managed to whip up a few batches of Christmas cookies.

Next week, more cookies and gift shipping.

I might even get to the laundry.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Do Re Mi

I am not a singer....actually, the truer statement would be I am not a GOOD singer. Sadly, and much to the chagrin of those around me, I am in fact very much a singer. I like to sing, others just don't like to have to listen. Undeterred, I do sing to my kids. I find that until the age of about 4 or 5 they don't really know the difference between good singing and nerve rattling warbling.

I have a small playlist of songs that I like to sing to or with my kids. The list evolves slightly from child to child, but right now the list includes:

Don't know why by Nora Jones
Leaving on a Jet Plane by Jon Denver (A friend used to perform this song in college and somehow it's been a favorite since.)
Ripple by the Grateful Dead (This was the first song I sang to my oldest son only because it was the only song I knew all the words to.)

Recently I have added the Scooby Doo song because my middle son is fascinated by it.

What songs are on your baby singing playlist??

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Reclaiming the Breakfast Bar

This week's organizing challenge is more of a marathon that a sprint. This is my breakfast bar.

It is a disaster. The BB has several qualities that lead it to the dark side. First off, too many things live there. It is a good place to put stuff, so we have just put all sorts of stuff there to stay. My first plan of attack is to find a new home for some of that stuff.

Second, it is right near the kitchen which means that when anyone takes something to the kitchen the have a tendency to tire out before they actually make it there so they just dump whatever they have on the breakfast bar.

Finally, the proximity to the kitchen means that it has an increased likelyhood of getting splashed with sauces or covered with crumbs.

So the real challenge here will not be just cleaning, but keeping clean.

UPDATE: I was hard pressed to figure out what to do with the glass canister type thing hidden behind the blue vase thing. That was, until I saw this post my Mrs. Moneysaver. My canisters are a little smaller, but still....that has got to me kismet! I love that I can take something I don't really want anymore and make it into a gift that someone else can enjoy...yeah!!

- Posted by Krista from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

To Do Tuesday

Congrats to everyone who entered the McDonalds coupon give away. I wil be sending you all an email as soon as I have some time with my computer - and the use of both hands.

I have a ton of stuff to get done this week. In an attempt to get most of it done I am introducing - drumroll please - To Do Tuesday. I could undoubtedly write a list of 500 things I SHOULD, but that's really not very realistic. I'm going to focus on the 10 most important thing for this week. Here they are:

1. Complete this weeks organizing challange (more on that later).

2. Make vet appointment for the cats.

3. Finish Christmas shopping. It will be a miracle if this one gets done.

4. Hang photo wall (more on this later too).

5. Clip cat claws.

6. Mail out contest prizes. 3 sets of McD's coupons and 1 home depot GC.

7. Make at least 1 batch of Christmas cookies.

8. Fold and put away all the laundry. My hubby is in charge of the washing and drying while I'm in charge of the folding and distributing. He says that by this time tomorrow there will be 8 loads ready for me. Why do we have so many clothes?

9. Register Boy2 for swimming and gymnastics classes. Damn gymnastics is full....wait-listed.

10. Clean under master bed.

Do you have a to do list? If so, post a link in the comments section. Misery loves company.

- Posted by Krista from my iPhone