Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts

Every year I have a thought about doing some sort of homemade Christmas gift for some of our family. One reason this always appeals to me is because of the money saving possibility. We have been trying to stick to a fairly tight budget, and Christmas was no exception. I really wanted to do something for some of my family that we wouldn't otherwise be able to get gifts for. Now, in the past, I've never carried through with any of the ideas I've had, mainly because they end up being way too labor intensive or it ends up costing more than if I had simply bought them a gift. This year, I had my thinking cap on early and came up with, what I think, is my best idea yet.

Homemade Apple Butter!

Really, who doesn't like apple butter?

Now, if you read this blog regularly, you may have noticed the post I wrote noting that I had failed at my first attempt at the butter. Looking back, I think I just lacked patience, and given enough time, I would have had apple butter that night.

That's the first thing I found out, apple butter requires patience...and lots of it! After my experiments, I determined that the crock pot was definitely the way to go, so you could just let it cook low and slow all day. However, my crock pot apparently cooks a little unevenly, and when we cooked it over night there was some burning that occured, that was lesson #2 in my apple butter journey. I'm working on sorting through all my do's and don'ts I learned along the way so I can share them with you in my Recipes folder. Until then, I'll leave you with the finished project, including how I adorned them.

Here's a close up of what the tags looked like. I simply took a picture of Bailey and then designed the tags in Microsoft Publisher. I then punched out a hole in the tag and tied them on using rafia. It helps when you have a friend cut out all the tags for you...thanks Brit!

Selective Vision

My husband likes to brag about the fact that he has better than perfect vision. His vision is amazing. He can be sitting on the other side of a restaurant and he can read the score of the current football/basketball/baseball/any other sport game that's on the TV that can't be more than a few millimeters high. He can read the name of street signs before my eyes can even make out that there are actually letters on the darn thing. He can read the states on license plates from like 3 car lengths back.

However, ask him to get the spaghetti sauce out of the pantry, and you'll be sorely disappointed. Seriously, it was sitting behind one thing. One small can stood in front of the spaghetti sauce and he couldn't find it. Have you ever heard of moving things around??

And the refrigerator is even worse. Don't expect him to be able to find anything in there!

And apparently, reading shampoo bottles eludes his better than perfect vision also. At the store this past weekend we realized we had forgotten the conditioner, he tells me he'll go grab it while I start checking out. I quiz him first, "What kind do I use?"  He replies correctly, "Herbal Essences, orange bottle."

I've trained him well, I think to myself as I start unloading my groceries from the cart.

Mistake #1, I didn't look at the bottle he brought up to the check out. It was orange, I thought he did good.

Mistake #2, I didn't look at the bottle before I put it in the shower.

Mistake #3, I didn't look at the bottle before I went to condition my hair this morning.

While I'm trying to smooth in the "conditioner", I realize there is sudzing going on. Conditioner shouldn't do this I thought while continuing to lather my hair. That's when I looked at the bottle.

Look closely, that's 2 in 1, shampoo and conditioner. Not conditioner. Conditioner and shampoo.

So as I shampooed by hair for the second time this morning, I had a realization.

People always talk about how men have selective hearing. Well, apparently they also have selective vision. Yes, Nick's eye sight is amazing, if you need something like the score of the game from across the room. But ask for almost anything else, and you're on your own.

“God made woman beautiful and foolish; beautiful, that man might love her; and foolish, that she might love him”

Monday, December 28, 2009

Not Me! Monday

Click here to read other Not Me! Mondays at MckMama's site.

I certainly was not so far behind this year that I actually wrapped one gift just minutes before the recipient walked into my house Christmas Eve!

I did not eat WAY too much over the last several days and did not love every minute of it.

Nick did not get my step dad a book entitled, What's Your Poo Telling You? And we all did not sit around and read it most of the night and then go on to have disgusting, yet hilarious, conversations. My family is no where near that gross...or open.

It was surely another mother who let their child stay in her Christmas jammies all day Christmas Day. Even when it was time to go their grandparents house for Christmas dinner. I certainly would not have just put Bailey's pink boots on (that just happen to match her jammies) and call it a day.

My house did not get so out of hand from all the people, food, presents and new toys that I was kind of scared of losing Bailey in all the mess!

I most certainly was not a litte sad about entering the real world again this morning while heading to work.

Christmas Time

Well, just like every year, you spend months (and money) buying gifts and planning your trips and wrapping presents and baking, cooking, preparing...and then it's over in the blink of an eye.

This Christmas, although gone way too fast, was amazing! Bailey just seemed to embody the definition of the Christmas spirit. We are still singing Christmas carols, she still talks about Santa and Rudolph daily...actually, she wakes up singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer almost every day.

Wednesday night my mom kept Bailey and my nephew Quentin. This is a tradition my mom started last year and they go look at Christmas lights, watch Christmas movies and just enjoy some good quality time with their grandkids before all the hoopla begins. It also allows mommy and daddy to get everything ready for all the hoopla!

Here's Bailey and Quentin playing in my mom's big window in her kitchen...silly kiddos!

They love each other!

And then it was time for the action to begin. We started our day at mom's house and we all made out like bandits!

And then it was time to open the big gift. Bailey really didn't know what to do when the big bag came out...but her trusty sidekick was ready to help open it!

"A bike? Its for me, mommy?!"

Is this not the cutest darn thing ever? I almost cried when I saw how stinkin' big she looked sitting up there!

Well, enough fun at one house...time to move on to my step dad's parents house for lunch and more gifts...

There was a baby doll and/or baby doll accessory at every house waiting on Miss Bailey. My girl loves her babies.

My little snow princess!

Then it was time for my famiy to come to our house for snacks and gifts. I love having my house crammed full of loved ones and listening to everyone laugh and enjoy each other's company, it's my favorite part about the Holidays. We had pulled pork sandwiches, chili, chips, a cheese tray, brownies, banana pudding, fudge and sugar cookies. It was the perfect snacky food after all of us having had a large lunch earlier in the day.

What is it, daddy?!

Can we say, Time for a haircut?!

We got my grandparents a digital picture frame, and they loved it!

Decorating cookies for Santa.

Bailey's cookies had about 10 pounds of frosting and sprinkles on them!!

Then it was time to head to bed and get ready for Santa to come.

Bailey loved the art easel Santa brought her!! (Isn't she cute in her Christmas jammies?!)

Nick reading the note left in the first box he opened Christmas morning, which read:

Oops! Santa must have forgotten to fill this box. We apologize. Please move on to the next box.

Elf #45.

The next box contained his Wii! He was very surprised and excited, I love when I'm able to really get him something he's not expecting.

This was probably my favorite Christmas so far, and I hope they only continue to get better and better!!! Hope all of you out there in blog world had a great one too!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Me! Monday

This blog carnival was created by MckMama. Head over here to see what everyone else has not been up to!

I do not have a bad habit of using the phrase "Shut up". And I don't mean in the telling someone to actually be quiet kind of way; but in the, ohmygoshthere'snowayitotallysoundlikeavalleygirl kinda way. And my parrot, er, I mean daughter, has not started repeating this and has not been caught saying "shut up" herself.

I am not loving my longer hair these days because it means ponytail days. I would not be lazy enough to choose sleep over actually getting up and showering and fixing my hair, as opposed to just throwing carefully putting it in a nice ponytail.

I am not really a 60 year old woman trapped in a twenty-something year olds body. I do not LOVE my Christmas pins (Santa earrings and matching pin shown below) and secretly wish for the day when I'm old enough to wear Christmas sweaters.

And I'm not totally rockin' out some matching Snowman earrings and pin today!

So, what did you not do this week?

A Trip to See Santa

We have been talking to Bailey about Santa Claus non-stop since about the beginning of December. I wanted so much to have her actually take her picture with him this year with no tears involved. She loves hearing about Santa, talking about him, watching movies with Santa in it. I thought we were a shoe in. She kept telling me, "I go see Santa, and sit on his wap, and tell him 'bout presents."

We decided to go to Lexington Green this year, and I am so glad we did! They definitely earned my Santa picture business from here on out. First, they offer appointments. So if we had shown up and there had been a long line, we would have been moved to the front. However, when we got there, there was no one else in line at all, which worked out perfectly. Bailey was excited to see Santa, until we got close to him. There were no tears involved like last year, she just wanted me to hold her and she didn't want to look at him. He was by far the cutest Santa I've ever seen. A real, cute old man with a real beard...I loved it! He got up from his chair and walked around a little, trying to give Bailey a little room to get comfortable. We tried to get her to sit on Santa's chair by herself, but she insisted on mommy being with her. So in the end she's on my lap and Santa was behind us. Everyone there was so great and understanding, which is the other reason I'll be returning there next year. Oh, and they give you all sorts of coupons when you pay for your picture.

After we took our picture, Santa came around and talked to Bailey about what reindeer eat and what we could leave for them Christmas night. When I told her that Santa knew Rudolph, her eyes got really big and she just looked at him with amazement...my girl loves her some Rudolph!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Do You See a Resemblance?

I'm Bailey, the cheesy girl,
I'm Bailey, the cheesy girl.
I'm cute as can be
'Cause I'm sure cheesy.
I'm Bailey, the cheesy girl!

Christmas Chaos

I would like to start off by saying that I LOVE Christmas!! I love all the parties, spending time with family and friends, good food, time off work, decorations, Christmas songs, good food...oh wait, I already said that, but I'm sorry, I really like food...and of course the reason for the season.

However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little more than stressed this time of year.

Nick and I both come from divorced parents, and both parents have remarried, which makes for a lot of folks to try and see at any holiday, and Christmas is no exception. Here's a rundown of our schedule for this year:

Christmas Eve:

* Go to my mom's house that morning to do gifts with them and my step-sister's family.

* Lunch/gifts in Frankfort with my step-dad's family

* Nap, rest

* My mom's side of the family comes to my house for snacks, gifts, cookie decorating and the like

* Prepare food for Christmas lunch the next day

Christmas Day:

* Run out and see what Santa brought us! Breakfast with my favorite man and little girl

* Finish preparing Christmas lunch

* Nick's family comes over for lunch and gifts

* Nap, rest, clean

* Go to my dad's for gifts

* Go to my grandmother's for dinner

* Crash

Seriously, I'm tired just thinking about all the running!! And no, we don't actually have to travel that far to any of the places, but that's just so much crammed into two little days. My biggest regret is that we don't have more time for just the three of us on Christmas morning. I grew up always having our celebration on Christmas Eve, so this whole Christmas morning thing is new to me, and I really enjoy it! I wish we had more time to play and spend time together that morning before all the hustle and bustle. But there's no one we would want to miss seeing over Christmas, so what's a girl to do?!

Do you all have what seems like a 100 places to go for Christmas? How do you ensure good quality time with your nearest and dearest? I would love to know and maybe get a good idea or two. If you have a lot to say and end up posting about the topic, please comment with a link to the post, I'd love to see how others handle this time of year!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mommy Musings

I really wish I had a tape recorder on at all times to catch the funny things that Bailey says and the odd conversations we have. Here are some of the most recent.

Mommy, I have an itch in my booty.

I have a big noggin head.

I was telling Bailey that Pops (my stepdad) would be in Japan for a little bit. I told her that he had to fly there and that it was really far away.
Mommy, I wants to fly. You do? Yeah, yeah mommy. I wants to fly, just like a pony. I fly to Mypan, ok? Then she started to run around the room flapping her arms.

Mommy, what you got on your boobies? Um...my shirt? Yeah, you shirk on your boobies mommy. Let's stop saying boobies now please.

I farted mommy! Please say pooted, fart is an ugly word, and you need to say excuse me. I not poot, I fart mommy. 'Cuse me fart.

And again later...

I pooted mommy. What do you say? 'Cuse me Jackson. Why did you excuse yourself to the dog. Cause hims next to me when I pooted.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Not Me! Monday!

This blog carnival was created by MckMama, check her site out to see what everyone else has not been up to.

This week I surely did not wake up late EVERY morning and then rush around in a mad dash trying to make sure I made it to work on time!

I did not keep putting off shopping for the Holiday dinner party and ended up doing it the night before the party. Which would mean making sure the 13 pound turkey thawed out in time to take its trip into the deep fryer. Because if I had, I would have had to turn my garden tub into a pool for said turkey, which would probably look something like this...

I did not tell my precious daughter to tell her daddy to "suck it up" after he was complaining to me about something. What kind of a mother would do such a thing?!

Good Friends & Good Food

This Saturday we had our 4th annual Maxwell Holiday Dinner Party.

These were the invites that I made. Because, you know, I prefer these over evites!

We started this tradition when Nick and I were living in our first apartment. That first year we all crammed into our little apartment and ate some so-so quality food. In fact, that first year, I overcooked the potatoes until they were about the consistency of glue and the boys had to run out and get some mashed potatoes from Popeye's before everyone else got there!

Now we all cram into my slightly larger house and have delicious food!

Everyone brings a dish, or two, and we deep fry a turkey. I mean really, you can't go wrong when you deep fry anything!! You know you're in for a real treat when you walk into someone's bathroom and you find this...

The turkey taking a dip in my tub so it could thaw out in time for its big debut :)

This year I stepped out of my comfort zone and made some homemade yeast rolls - recipe courtesy of the Pioneer Woman, of course! I thought the rolls tasted great, even though they didn't rise quite like they should have. Oh well, the first time is for working out the kinks! I wish we had taken a picture of all the food...it was kind of insane! We had: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, broccoli casserole, baked mac 'n cheese, dumplings, deviled eggs, broccoli slaw, hashbrown casserole, rolls...and probably something else that I'm forgeting now! And of course desserts :)

While I was finishing the last minute things, Bailey was entertained by her aunts Brittany and Booke. Looks like they were having quite a time!

I feel so blessed to have so many great friends in our lives. I love getting together with them and Bailey loves every one of them! Well, Ryan kind of scares her when he has his beard...facial hair kind of freaks her out :)

Ryan would be the one with the massive beard!

Bailey received some great gifts including two new baby dolls and some SpongeBob jammies!

After we all gorged ourselves we piled onto the couch, started the fire and enjoyed a movie together. What a great night with great friends...and great food! We would like to thank every one for coming and sharing in this tradition with us...we love you all!