Sunday, December 28, 2008

Say Cheese!

Munch loves her Auntie Gina- she ALWAYS sends the best gifts. I thought the bike that Santa brought would be the gift of the day, but once she opened up her VTech Kidizoom camera, nothing else existed. Munch has been carrying this with her everywhere she goes. Actually, it was really cute- she hopped on her bike for a first ride around the waterfront and would stop every so often to take a picture- like a little tourist! She filled up the memory by Christmas evening- more than 400 pictures! It's a terrific camera for kids- A cute, but tough exterior with rubbery "handles" that take drops and bumps well. Easy for little hands to hold. And easy to operate! There are cute frames that you can select, and the picture quality is not bad for a kids' camera. Cousin A. wanted to get his hands on this the moment he saw it- guess what he's getting for his birthday? Here's a little sampling of the pictures Munch took on Christmas Day-



we still need to work on aiming! But she's got an interesting perspective...

Here are a few that I'm guessing were taken by her cousin or other people trying the camera out-

Coffee Cookies


I just love having a couple of weeks off of work over the holidays! After the chaos during the days leading up to Christmas (I made yet ANOTHER chocolate cream pie- we're up to 5 in the last month now!), it was nice staying home afterwards. AudioDad's been off since Wednesday, Brian came to stay for a few days after. We've been playing with the new Wii (AudioDad's been listening! Or at least reading the blog!) and working through the leftovers. Too bad these cookies were one of the first to go- the recipe came from a teacher at work. I just love how they're not too sweet, and I can't resist anything coffee-flavored!

Coffee Cookies
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tbs. instant coffee, plus extra for dusting
2 tsp. hot water
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Dissolve the tablespoon of instant coffee in the hot water and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar using a mixer at medium speed. Beat in the egg, coffee mixture, and the vanilla. Mix the salt into the flour and then stir it into the butter-sugar mixture. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls (about a tablespoon) and place on a baking sheet. Press with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar or use a decorative cookies tamp. Crush/sprinkle additional instant coffee crystals over the cookies. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and cookies are set in the centers.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh my! Chocolate Cream Pie!



This is all that was left- bits of chocolate crumb crust, whipped cream, and chocolate pudding. Like a lot of recipes, I usually forget to make this until the holidays roll around and I need a sure crowd pleaser. I brought this to my sister-in-laws house on Thanksgiving and poor AudioDad almost didn't get a taste. So, I figured I'd bring two pies when we visited them again this past weekend. We joked that next time I may need to bring three!
It's a great dessert. Who can resist the smooth pudding and the sweet cream? For the crust, I use Nabisco Famous wafers, but couldn't find them this year! Chocolate graham crackers work fine, and I also used Trader Joe's chocolate cat cookies this year- also good results. The recipe may look involved, but it's mostly because of all the components. It's actually pretty straightforward once you've done it a couple of times. When I double the batch, the pudding will fit in a 3 qt. saucepan.

Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate crust
1 3/4 c. chocolate cookie crumbs (see note above)
1 tbs. sugar
7 tbs. unsalted butter, melted

Chocolate pudding
3 tbs. cornstarch
1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. half and half
1 1/4 c. whole milk
1 c. sugar
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped cream topping
2 c. heavy cream
2 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with nonstick cooking spray. To make the chocolate wafer crust, place some chocolate cookies in a gallon-size ziplock bag, seal, and crush using a rolling pin or meat mallet. Continue until crumbs are reasonably small (my largest bits are gravel-sized) and you have the amount needed. Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a medium bowl. Transfer 1 tbs. of the crumb mixture to a small bowl and set aside to garnish the pie. Scrape the remaining crumb mixture into the prepared pie plate and use your fingers to press it evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake the crust for 8 minutes, or until set. Cool on a rack while you prepare the pudding layer.
To make the chocolate pudding, in a medium bowl, sift together the cornstarch, cocoa powder,and salt. Whisk in about 2 tbs. of the half and half until it is a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining half and half; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and chocolate. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk about 1/2 c. of the hot chocolate mixture into the half and half mixture. Whisk this mixture into the remaining chocolate mixture in the saucepan. Return the pan to the heat and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. When the mixture begins to bubble, continue to cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and then the vanilla. Scrape the pudding into the cooled pie shell. Cover and refrigerate the pie until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours.
To make the whipped cream topping, beat the cream on medium-low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-high and add the sugar and vanilla. Beat until the cream forms soft peaks. Scrape the whipped cream over the chilled pie and use a spatula to sweep the cream into swirls. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate crumbs over the cream. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas, indeed!



I'm just getting around to looking at our pics from the last couple of days. This was taken last night before we headed out to see the family. I love how it just captures Munch's personality so well- and she felt so pretty in her dress- she didn't stop skipping, twirling, and dancing all night!

Almond Bar Cookies



Nope, no fun back story here, just the recipe. So shoot me- we rolled in from my in-laws "not on Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve" party after 11:00 last night. Munch was a real trooper, happily dancing and giggling with her cousin D. all night- and immediately fell asleep in the car. These Almond Bars were such a hit on all the cookie plates this year-I now make 2 pans at a time.

8 oz. can almond paste
1 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, separated
2 tsp. almond extract
2 3/4 c. flour
1 2/3 c. sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pans by lining 2 8-inch square baking pans with foil (for the technique, click here. Spray each with nonstick cooking spray.

Crumble the almond paste into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the almond paste until broken into small bits, then add salt and 1/2 c. sugar and continue to pulse until finely ground, about 1 minute.

In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and 1 c. sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the almond paste mixture, egg yolks, and almond extract and mix. Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour, mixing until well incorporated. Divide batter between the prepared pans and smooth top with a spatula. Set aside.

In a clean, dry bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1/4 c. sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in 1 1/3 c. sliced almonds. Divide and spread egg white mixture over the almond cookie base in the pans. Sprinkle remaining sliced almond over the tops. Bake until golden and set, about 55 min. Cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Lift out using foil "handles" and transfer to a cutting board. Slice into small squares (I usually get 24 squares per pan) and remove from foil. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Naughty or Nice?



At Aunt Gina's suggestion, Santa has sent one of his elves to keep an eye on the Munchkin's behavior in these days before Christmas.



The package that arrived on our doorstep was covered with stamps from around the world and a special box inside bore Santa's official seal.



Inside was Munch's very own special elf, whom she named Doodle (or occasionally calls him Google), whose task it is to watch Munch's behavior and report back to Santa every night (how else could he know who's been good or bad?) I can see how this would motivate some kids to behave extra well. Munch is an interesting one though. Overall, we've been REALLY lucky with her behavior. She is well-mannered and quiet in public (other than singing along to grocery store music), she gets along well with other kids (no hitting or other antisocial behavior), and like AudioDad, is generally content and easy-going. I'm lucky that most of her good behavior is intrinsic, because when it comes to listening to me, Munch likes to test the limits. We used time-outs occasionally earlier in the year (shortly after she turned two), but she quickly realized that if she was willing to do the time, she could do the crime. There went time-outs.

So I was curious to see if Doodle/Google would have any effect on her. (Lately our issue is that she's incredibly SLOW at the dinner table, picking at her food just to see what our reaction will be.) So far, she likes greeting him in the morning wherever he appears and checking in with him when we come home and before she goes to bed. What's a little concerning is that, as we drove home this evening, Munch told me all about how she'd be telling Doodle how naughty she was today since she didn't plan to eat her dinner when we got home. I think we're going to have to work on this naughty/nice thing a little bit more... It's a cute idea- it seems to be working better on Munch's cousin A. If you want to check it out, go to The Elf on the Shelf.

On a related note, I found out about another fun site that gives you proof of Santa's visit on Christmas Eve- check out Capture the Magic. Here's the photo that we'll show Munch on Christmas morning of Santa putting presents under our tree!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts With C!


I've been busy- heck, when am I not? This weekend was a whirlwind of flour, butter, and sugar, cellophane, waxed paper, and ribbons (oh my!). And, crazy me, I actually considered it RELAXING! So over the next few days- who am I kidding, I'll need into next week to catch up on my posts- I'll share my recipes for the delicious goodies pictured above. Out of my kitchen this weekend came a gingerbread cake with cream cheese icing, buttery brown sugar bites with toffee and pecans, lemon snowballs, coffee buttons, chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, almond bars, lemon-pecan refrigerator cookies, chocolate sables with espresso and sea salt, and butter cookies with cinnamon dots. This plate of treats headed off to AudioDad's workplace today and came back with just a few crumbs.

Anytime's a Good Time for Fireworks!


No, this is not a leftover pic from the 4th of July. It's just Christmas in our town, which is occasion enough for fireworks. I'm telling you, this place LOVES fireworks (I've counted at least 4 displays this past year)- and it's not a show unless mothers start grabbing their children and run for cover. I'm not kidding! A few years back, pre-Munch, they were so low we felt the heat and were basically craning our necks looking right overhead (as the afore-mentioned mothers scurried around us). Every so often a spark would fall into the harbor with a sizzle. Lucky for us, the recently installed lawn on the waterfront now allows us to lie down and comfortably await our doom...though it kinda freaked out our nieces and nephew this past July. They were sure they were going to die.
We've actually been fairly pleased with the events our town puts on. They really try, for such a tiny place. The waterfront is a great backdrop and we love just walking a block or so

into all of the action. Just wish we had a decent farmer's market here too. Anywho, back to Christmas- I was crossing my fingers for pony and wagon rides, which AudioDad saw earlier, but by the time we arrived, there were none to be found. We enjoyed the big bonfire that our volunteer firecrew happily kept blazing. The kids rode the chuggabug express around the harbor-

and then we watched the parade of boats all decked out with lights and music- one of them was decorated like a sleigh and carried Santa to the dock. He lit the big tree just before the fireworks display began.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More Christmas Preparations!


I just love going to the tree farm. As much as I love a noble fir, they don't grow here, and the whole experience of searching for and cutting down your own tree is one I just can't let go of. We bundled up and headed out on a very cold day- it definitely felt like winter!



This year I decided I also wanted Munch to have a little tree in her room. I figured it would be a nice way to continue the tradition I have of purchasing her an ornament every year. I was also hunting for trees that were tall, but narrow. We found a great one for Munch's room-



and we also discovered they had pony rides!



The people with the ponies were also really gracious about giving us lots of photo time-




While AudioDad took care of purchasing and loading up our trees, Munch and I took an ATV ride around the property (the wagon ride had a REALLY long line, and we'd done it at Halloween already).



Once we got home, Munch and I made a paper chain to decorate her tree-

Friday, December 12, 2008

"Something's Here!"



Ok, I have to start by saying that this title is already reminding me of Munch, even though this post has nothing to do with her. She uses this bizarre voice when she thinks she's whispering. Problem is, she sounds like one of those possessed kids in a horror movie...or that strange little creature out of that Hobbit movie (you know, the one who says "my precious"? That's my kid!) So one day, she's sitting at the dinner table, imagining there's dinosaurs upstairs, and she uses that creepy whisper, "Mommy do you hear it? I hear 'something'.... it's coming closer...closer"- Anywho, "something" DID arrive!
The darn thing sure took long enough in getting here- maybe it's part of the suspense. It was a tiny box- maybe 4x4 or so. And really light. I had no idea what it might be, so...



voila! I am now the proud owner of a wine thermometer!



Did it cost $10? Probably. Do I ever see myself using one? Probably not (I'm not all that particular about my wine temp so long as it's drinkable). Do I still love the concept? Absolutely- the curiosity just gets me every time. And for $10, it was more entertaining than paying that same amount at the movie theater. Will I be recycling this gift (see previous post)-NO! (doesn't meet my criteria) Unless there's a white elephant exchange going on....

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tag, You're It! (The Christmas version)


(Munch and cousin A. last Christmas)

OK, I admit it. I usually am the LAST person in the world to respond to those emails where you copy & paste in your own answers. But when dear Liz sent one my way, with this:
"26. Who is most likely to respond to this. Janice..."
as the answer to her last question, how could I let her down? So...more about me than you probably ever wanted to know...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both- I LOVE to wrap gifts! But, sometimes it just doesn't work for the shape/size of the gift. BTW, my fave assignment when working retail at Williams-Sonoma (other than the cash reg)? Gift wrapping!
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real, usually cut down by AudioDad, but I'll use mini-fake ones around the house too.
3. When do you put up the tree? I'm not together enough to put one up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Usually the first or second weekend of December.
4. When do you take the tree down? After New Years.
5. Do you like eggnog? MMMmmrrawrr (and other Homer-ish souds)...eggnog (drool...)
6. Favorite gift received as a child? a Barbie Dream House
7. Hardest person to buy for? dads
8. Easiest person to buy for? Munch
9. Do you have a nativity scene? nope
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Can't think of one.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Grinch Who Stole Christmas- the original version- especially ever since Munch's first Xmas and I got a photo of her that reminded me of Susie-Lou Who
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Thanksgiving week
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes (cringe...), but my rules are: -ONLY if it's something I would have purchased anyway
-it's not so unique/personal that it would be apparent to whomever gave it to me (eg. any Bath & Body Works product!)
- and, finally, a girl can only use so many candles and scented soap/lotion sets before I'd have to start bathing multiple times a day with an inferno blazing around me- you really wouldn't believe how many of these I get from students at Christmas & the end of the school year! Gotta be practical!
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Anything seasonal- like Trader Joe's candy cane Joe-Joes!
16. Lights on the tree? There are people who DON'T put lights on the tree?!?
17. Favorite Christmas song? The whole Charlie Brown/Vince Guaraldi CD- it's not the Christmas season until we first play it
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Both, but we make the local rounds, no long distance traveling
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Probably, but I can ALSO name more than 40 kindergartners, most of their parents & other caretakers, AND tell you what vehicle they go in!
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel
21.Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning in our pj's
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The weeks of December go by so slowly before we break for winter vacation
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Always multi colored lights and LOTS of them(rule of thumb- a strand of 100 per foot, wrapped from the base out & around each branch), also only red balls (other than the random ones I get as gifts)
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? There's gotta be a ham!
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? A Wii, but it looks like fate brought me a fridge instead :)
26. Who is most likely to respond to this? Can't wait to see!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Family Dinners- Lasagna!

It's funny how different meals work their way in and out of the usual dinner rotation. An old favorite somehow drops off the radar for a while, only to be rediscovered months (years?) later. My lasagna is like that- I used to make it frequently back in high school. But it was such a pain! Boiling the noodles (and wrestling those slippery suckers into the dish), mom's sauce that took seemingly forever, ALL those pots to wash! Oh, but was it good! AudioDad loved it, so I made it for him often once we got married- I remember it was even harder in that teeny apartment kitchen that had NO counter space- I had enough space for a dish-drying rack, and a free-standing butcher block that was about one and a half feet square.
Later I found a recipe that uses no-boil noodles. It was SO much easier! And just as good...no, better than my previous recipe. And it seems to come together in a jiffy! Now that it's back in the rotation, I'm making it just about once a week!



Sauce:
1 tbs. olive oil (I just do 1 swirl around the pan)
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. heavy cream
28 oz. can tomato puree
28 oz. diced tomatoes, drained (do NOT forget to drain!)

Other ingredients to layer:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, I like to use a combination of grated and shredded
1/2 c. chopped fresh basil (I just use a heaping pinch of dried)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
9 oz. package Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles
4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan (I use a 4 qt.) over medium high heat and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is softened but not browned, about 2 min. Add the garlic and cook another 2 min. Crumble ground beef into onion mixture and add salt and pepper. Cook, breaking meat into small pieces until meat loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 4 min. Pour in cream and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and only fat remains, about 4 min. Stir in the pureed tomatoes and the drained diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently about 5 more minutes, then remove from heat and set sauce aside.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 c. Parmesan, basil, egg, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Assemble first lasagna layer in a deep 9x13 baking dish, starting with sauce smeared on bottom of dish. Place 4 lasagna noodle sheets on top of sauce, then dollop 3-4 scant tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto the noodles, spread over noodles with spoon, then sprinkle with 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella (about 2-3 handfuls) and a shake of the grated Parmesan. Ladle 1 1/2 c. meat sauce over cheese layer, then repeat layering of noodles, cheeses, and sauce two more times. Place remaining 4 noodles on top of sauce, spread remaining sauce over noodles, sprinkle with remaining cup of mozzarella, then the remaining 1/4 cup or so of Parmesan. Lightly spray a sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake 15 min. then remove foil. Return lasagna to oven and bake, uncovered about 25 more minutes until the cheese is beginning to brown and sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and cool 10 min. before serving.



We were in such a hurry to eat that I forgot to take a picture of it before digging in!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Countdown...



Christmas is my second favorite holiday after Thanksgiving, mostly because I have to actually DO stuff to get ready for Christmas. On Thanksgiving, I just show up with a dessert in hand and eat! But this year is definitely different now that Munch is older. She "gets" it more and can participate in the preparations- the girl LOVES projects! So we spent a lot of last week shopping online- with her acting as consultant. She now makes sure all the boxes that arrive are properly placed in the "package room". We've made cinnamon-applesauce dough, then rolled and cut it out- I figure these fragrant little shapes will be cute with a red gingham ribbon, tied onto presents. We picked out cute containers at the dollar store which will be filled with holiday cookies. Last Sunday, we headed to our favorite pottery place to make ornaments and figurines for the grandparents-



they'll be ready for us this weekend, so we'll make a day of picking them up and chopping down the perfect tree at the tree farm! And this year, I'll finally get back to my old practice of having multiple trees around the house. We'll put a little tree in Munch's room that she can decorate (and undecorate) as she pleases. And maybe one on the front porch, with more of a "nature" theme...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yay!



It's here! It's here!
The new refrigerator arrived today and I'm thrilled! (Note: there will be liberal use of the exclamation point in this post)
The guys that delivered it were pros- quick, precise (I hadn't given much thought to doorway width), and efficient- how often does THAT happen?
Munch and I quickly got to work removing all the plastic & tape from the interior. I'd almost forgotten how large the freezer is- the bottom bin is bigger than my laundry basket!


Love the tilt-out freezer door!


I'm still playing with the configuration of the interior shelves- it's such a different layout from the old side-by-side- and trying to get used to the increased depth. I used to ALWAYS stuff the old fridge to the brim, food practically spilling out when you opened the doors!


Can't wait to get to the grocery store so I can get to work on filling it up!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Baby, It's Cold(er) Outside

RIP, My dear old refrigerator...
It had to happen- I've been home ALL week long, fridge is stuffed to the brim (well, then again, when is it not?), and I notice over the weekend (hours before I head back to work) that it just doesn't seem as cold. Crank the chill settings up a bit- a day later, still the same. And, now my frozen blueberries are getting a bit softer. At least the ground beef is still frozen solid. Crank the settings up a little more...and vacuum those coils. Doesn't seem to help. So, we make the decision that it's time to replace it (poor thing's going on 15-18 years old now!) Munch & I headed to Sears right after work today- and fell in love (I guess we rebound quickly!) with a french-door style model- the Kenmore Elite Trio. I'll actually be able to put a whole sheet pan in there, or even a Costco pizza! I can't wait for it to come home- pictures to come!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Do I Get a Lollipop with That?

I haven't trimmed Munch's hair for a long time now- we've been trying to grow it out. About 2 Halloweens ago I gave her a short pixie-ish cut-

it was fairly easy because I was mostly just giving some shape to her baby hair which was finally starting to grow, but had a bit of wave and a cute little flip. My method (which made my stylist laugh...and cringe) was to cut away "anything that didn't look like it belonged there!"
Her hair grew quite quickly actually, like mine does. So here's the before:

I knew I wanted to give her a layered cut with sideswept angled bangs, so I found an interesting technique where you cut with the head turned upside down. Turns out her bangs still aren't long enough to really layer into the cut(we're working on growing those out), but I think it turned out pretty cute and it's still long enough to pull into a ponytail. It also works well enough with her funny hair- it grows totally straight on one side (1st pic), and really wavy on the other (2nd pic).
After:


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Feeling crabby?

It just doesn't feel right if I haven't had my first taste (for the season) of Dungeness by Thanksgiving week. While we were at 99 Ranch a few days ago with the grandparents, I picked up a couple of crabs for Munch and I to enjoy this week. Needless to say, my adventuresome little eater enjoyed them immensely. I think she also liked chatting up her dinner before we dunked them in the pot.

Happy Turkey Day!

Whew! After yesterday's baking extravaganza, we spent Thanksgiving day making the rounds to all the branches of our families. It was a great day with great food, which is my very favorite part! We did a quick pumpkin bread drop off to one set of grandparents before heading off to visit AudioDad's family for a late morning brunch.


A picture with the cousins (minus one run-off). I'd also have a photo of Aunt Lara's fabulous cinnamon rolls if AudioDad hadn't eaten half the batch first!

At my parents', Munch quickly got to playing with cousin A. while we worked on getting the meal to the table.



The star of the show.


The pecan pie Munch and I made for Grandpa.


I couldn't resist getting a funny pic of the cranberry sauce in the midst of all the beautiful food!


One hungry girl after all that play time!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Family Game Nights


Now that Munch is older (can you believe she'll be three in a couple of months???) I thought it might be fun to break open the games that her Auntie Lara gave her last year. She has so much more patience now, and is more interested in following directions. Also, her counting is a lot more reliable! We loved Candyland (haven't played it since I was a kid!) and thought the Five Little Monkeys game (in the photo above) was fun, too. Chutes and Ladders pushed my patience a bit, just because with Munch entering her "why?" phase, all the actions and consequences took a lot of explaining. My favorite of the bunch though, is Hi-Ho Cherry-O- it's simple, there's no extended explanation necessary, picking up the tiny fruit is great for those fine-motor skills, and the game is done super quick!

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Cuteness

I don't know what has gotten into the Munchkin lately. She has been such an angel these last couple of months. AudioDad's been hard at work all weekend applying sealer to our fence. So last night Munch & I whipped up a lasagna and cake for him. After dinner, we ate our cake- Munch is the type that, if there's a yummy snack or treat, she's got one in each hand is already calling dibs on her next piece. So usually, she'd be gobbling her cake & eyeing her daddy's (he'll give her bites of his and she knows it). But last night, he offered her a bite of his cake. And as sweet as could be, she said, "No thank you. It's Daddy's. We made it 'cause we love Daddy." Be still my heart!
And speaking of cute and sweet, if you haven't made it over to Speaking of the Sweetest Things yet, you've got to. Her blog is just adorable!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm Waiting for...Something

Came across this site in researching for an upcoming post (the first ever, Can I Taste It Now gift guide!). I just couldn't resist- the whole premise and concept has me so curious! Go to The Something Store and for $10 (that's inclusive of shipping & handling!), they'll send you "SOMETHING"! I'll let you know what my something is when it arrives!

The Gift Guide

Oprah's got one. So does amazon.com. They're all over the web and in most of this month's magazines. You don't have to look far to find a list of gift ideas for this season. So I figured, why not come up with my own? Here are some of my picks for fun gifts I'm giving (can't let the cat out of the bag too soon!)...or would love to receive! Have a great find? Let me know! (I'll be posting more direct links to the merchants below ASAP- they've got a lot of unique gift ideas)

Lotus Blossom Tea Light Holders- $34.95/set of 3
I gave a pair of these in cream to a friend last summer. They're simple and beautiful.


Playful Word Earrings-$40
You'll usually spot me wearing these at school on the last day before a vacation break.


Savannah Bee Company Honey Flute-$23
Try a drizzle of this with a little cheese and bread- You will never go back to those honey bears after tasting this. They also have a sampler set so you can compare varietals.


Matryoshka Measuring Cups-$28
How adorable are these? I WANT, WANT, WANT these!


Red Coupe Dinnerware-from $8.95-10.95
Remember the "Red Plate" post? Well here's your chance to start the tradition with your family!


Italian Panettone-$39.95
You cannot go wrong with this fragrant, delectable holiday bread from Williams-Sonoma. It's delicious plain, toasted, or if you really want to gild the lily, (oh my!) french toast!


Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup-$29 for two jars
Blossoms unfurling in your pot of tea? Cranberries or pomegranate bobbing in your sparkler? Been there, done that. Drop this little beauty in your bubbly this season instead!


Home Decor items by Tord Boontje-price varies
I purchased the midsummer light (pictured below, $78) for Munch's room- everything he designs is airy, girly, and fanciful.



I'm Made in America canvas bags-contact for pricing
Ok, full disclosure here. This is my parents' new company. But they're on to something. It's good that people are becoming more eco-conscious, but these bags are made here in the USA. So while you're being green, you can support the red, white & blue, too!


Mr. Men Giant Snakes and Ladders-$29
Gotta love those Mr. Men and Little Misses! Here's their version of Chutes and Ladders- jumbo sized!


Jellycat Bellissima Bird-$25
A quirky little soft pal (also available in black/white.)


Dinos on the Go-$19.99
These little guys even come with a bin that zips open into a playmat!


Some favorite sites:
Uncommon Goods
The Conran Shop
Viva Terra
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