Wednesday, December 30, 2009

MercyMe "Homesick"

It's been a little while since I posted anything heartfelt and potentially depressing. In case that has caused you to think maybe I'm not still crying myself to sleep at night I thought I'd set the record straight. I always feel on some level that sadness is my shadow, but the intensity fluctuates from week to week and day to day. The last few weeks have felt...empty. My relationship with my boys has been particularly awesome, like I'm getting into the groove of the whole single parenting thing...though I did remark to a friend the other night that if I had wanted to be a single parent I would've gotten knocked up in high school. (That's a joke, Mom.) My boys are adorable, hilarious little people and I thank God daily that I have been blessed with them. Oddly, that doesn't fill the hole.

So I'm working on a project right now and I'm listening to the radio. A song just came on, and I've heard it before, but I guess I've never really listened to it. Just now I did and it had me bawling in my kitchen, so of course I'm going to share. I've never been big on Christian rock, but this one is definitely worth a listen. Unless you care what your mascara looks like right now, in which case you should skip it.

I guess for me it sums up how it feels to go through one more round of Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year's without my man. I'm homesick.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Not Your Mother's S'mores

Inspiration can come from anywhere. It's almost inspiring just thinking about all the places you can get inspiration. Last week I got it on an end cap at Target. It looked an awful lot like a bag of caramel filled- and a bag of peanut butter filled- Ghirardelli squares.

Last week with our Texas constituency in town for Christmas we decided it was finally time to break in the backyard fire pit with a family marshmallow roast. So after a delicious dinner at Lulu's Tacos we headed back to the casa.

The day before the big event I had gone to Target to pick up some Hershey bars for s'mores making (which should be an Olympic Sport...or the official National Pastime...or something really awesome) and that's when I got inspired... If there's one thing I learned from all my years with Matt, it's that even a great classic can be improved on. Laymen might consider it more of a snob factor, which is fine by me. We'll just call these Snobby S'mores...they are lovingly made with the afore mentioned Ghirardelli squares instead of the everyday Hershey bar. And Oh My Cow (direct quote from Hunter) are they good!

Seriously inspired.
While I wouldn't say it came about as the result of inspiration, this is Hunter's version of a s'more. "I don't need the crackers" he says.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Say Cheese

I love cupcakes. I love cake in general, but there's something very charming to me about cupcakes. Sometimes I think maybe it's my calling in life to bake fabulous cupcakes. (That's on my less serious days of course, when I'm not too concerned about leaving my mark on humanity.) So when I saw this magazine at the check-out stand a few weeks ago, I had to grab it. It was on the kitchen table during a recent visit from our Atlanta constituency. Please take a minute to study the chocolate cupcake on the right, the one in the purple liner.

My four-year-old niece picked up the magazine and after studying it intently asked, "Why did someone put cheese on that cupcake?"

I explained that while it might look like cheese it was really white chocolate. She was unconvinced.

While the men-folk went off to do boy things that evening, the women-folk got to cupcake making. When it came time to decorate, my niece asked for some cheese. My sister-in-law and I tried to sway her with colorful sprinkles--after all, what little girl wouldn't love to decorate cupcakes with all kinds of colorful sprinkles? Again, she was unconvinced. So I gave her a stick of cheese. I guess I just thought she'd plop it right down on the top of the cupcake. I was wrong. Apparently my niece is as serious about cupcakes as I am. I looked up from my own cupcake decorating to see this:

How can you see something like that and not love kids?! Warms my heart I tell you! My little niece ate that cupcake, and she enjoyed every bite.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 1st Miracle of Christmas

I read a quote recently that said something about something doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. While I agree with this statement, I have to say that perfection doesn't hurt anything either.

For several weeks this has been the scene in our kitchen: an island out of food prep commission and covered with birdhouses in various stages of done-ness.

I'm not one to accept help when I've got a project going on because I like things just so. The kids always ask and I always say no. But when Hunter asked if he and Brig could put some rhinestones on the birdhouses for the Christmas tree, it warmed my heart. I guess I figured any 4-year-old boy who could properly use the word "rhinestone" in a sentence deserved a little kickback. Either that or I was just really tired of the birdhouses all over the island and wanted them done.

So the first miracle of the Christmas season has taken place in our household...I gave in, and Brigham and Hunter got to help with a project.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Round

Last week the clan headed over to a friend's family's farm for another round of family pictures. I wanted some that were a little more casual and little boy friendly...and what is more casual--or boy friendly--than a farm?

We had easily a dozen perfect back-drops, but Seth wasn't having it. Quite uncharacteristically, he cried almost the entire photo shoot. Maybe more like sobbing. At any rate it was pretty pitiful. I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm sure once I have the rest of the pics back from our photog Cami we'll have proof. Here are just a handful that Seth didn't completely freak out in:

This shot is the one I most wanted out of the photo shoot, my sassy heels with my little fellas in their Chucks. I'm planning to redo my blog with this shot. And the truth is, Seth was screaming his head off for this one, but we figured it didn't really matter since his face doesn't show. More of that tough love parenting I'm so fond of...

And boys being boys...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Polar Bear Club

Just a couple of days ago I found myself staring out my kitchen window. I caught myself actually feeling shocked that there is a rather large swimming pool out there where not so long ago there was grass and dirt. It was awesome. But even with that momentary feeling of awe, I have absolutely no desire to jump in said pool. I am a wimp of titanic proportions where cold is concerned. If I even look at the pool for too long I feel my toes start to go numb and I'm checking for symptoms of frostbite.

Hunter does not share my sensitivity to the cold. Every couple of days he begs to go swimming. Every couple of days I explain the concept of seasons and assure him that the water that looks so inviting in his mind is, in fact, only a few degrees above freezing.

Yesterday he asked again. Yesterday I decided to let him figure it out for himself.

The following is a photo-documentary of Hunter's education. Watch closely how the expression on his face changes as he realizes his mother is not a complete idiot:

Practicing tough love. It brings tears (of laughter) to my eyes every time...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Red Velvet Truffles

Two food posts in a row...should I be embarrassed by that? I heard about this recipe from a friend of mine and just had to try it out. Red Velvet Truffles from Bakerella. They are probably not my most favorite treat ever, but they are super easy...not to mention kind of impressive and totally kid-friendly if you have littles who want to help out. Brig and Hunter rolled the filling into balls for me and I did the dipping.

Red Velvet Truffles

Red Velvet Cake
1 can of Cream Cheese frosting
1 pkg. of almond bark

Prepare and bake the cake as directed on the box for a 9x13 cake. Once it is completely cooled, break it up into a mixing bowl and completely stir in the frosting. Shape into balls about the size of a quarter. Chill. (Truthfully, we didn't chill ours. We went straight for the chocolate and they turned out fine. I think the idea behind chilling is that the cake balls won't be as likely to break up during dipping if they're cold, but we didn't have any problem with ours at room temperature.) Melt the almond bark according to the directions on the package. Dip the cake balls, completely coating them, and place on parchment or wax paper until set.
If you wanted to try truffles but aren't crazy about the red velvet, any flavor of cake and frosting could be used. I'm thinking right this minute about trying a chocolate cake mix with a couple drops of mint extract mixed into white frosting...