Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dark Chocolate S'mores = Decadence

So, since we have a big group of family visiting from Canada this week, two of whom are fresh off the boat from Iran, we thought we'd have a little fire in the backyard and do some good ole fashioned American s'mores. Since I was the one delegated to get the ingredients, I decided that a little decadence was needed - I'm typically not a big fan of s'mores because I don't care much for milk chocolate...yes, I'm a choco-snob. I got Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bars for those of us who have refined taste buds and plain old Hershey's for the rest of the folks (who couldn't tell good chocolate from tree bark...just sayin'). I have to say, I've never enjoyed a s'mores quite like I enjoyed the 2 I ate last night! On my list of "quick, yet decadent desserts," Dark Chocolate S'mores.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside My Window...Sunshine! It's cool and crisp.
I am thinking...What a blessing it is to be able to have the windows open in late December!
I am thankful for...My husband, my kids, the end of the Christmas season. Have I mentioned I love, love, love my new job? My boss gave me a gift of $100, plus he paid me for the full day on Christmas Eve and I only had to work half the day. What a generous man! I've only been working for him for 3 weeks but I think he and I will get along just fine. In addition, he wrote in the Christmas card he gave me, "Thank you for your positive addition to our team. May God bless you and your family this Christmas and in the New Year." Hmmmm, God? Does he believe?

From the learning rooms...there's no learning going on around here! Well, maybe a little from "Life's Big Book of Lessons."

From the kitchen...hmmmmm, not. so. sure. Well, I do know that I will be hosting my 3rd, yes you read that right, my 3rd turkey dinner of this year on New Year's Eve. That's turkey and all the trimmings. uggghhh! We have LOTS of family here from Canada and my MIL wants to treat them to a turkey dinner. I guess it's good practice...insert whimpers and moaning here.

I am wearing...polka-dot pj's and a pink slippers!
I am environment with less stress and more God - which equates to more peace.

I am the kitchen to get my second cup of coffee.
I am reading...nothing, but I want to read "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn" maybe I'll start next week.

I am hoping...for a week of mind-renewing peace and happiness

I am hearing...the kids interacting with Dora The Explorer. It's just amazing watching them grow and learn.

Around the house...a little laundry, a little vacuuming, a little tidying-up to be done

One of my favorite things...besides the hot cup of coffee, a good book that just captivates me so much I can't put it down.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...we are hoping to get to go to Boca Raton this weekend to visit Dan's cousin.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...Katie & Sophie playing in the surf at Playa Linda beach...YESTERDAY!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mom, This One Plays Weird Songs

I went shopping for Christmas decorations yesterday. I decided to buy a couple of lighted wreaths to hang up next year. While at Home Depot, the kids fell in love with those little plastic snow globes; you know, the ones that you push the button and they play holiday music and little Styrofoam snowballs fly around. Well, the girls chose a princess one and I chose the Peanuts one for Adam. He managed to break it before we left the store and had to settle for a Rudolph one instead. On the way home Adam says, "Mom, I don't like this one, it plays weird songs!" Come to find out, it does play songs that are "weird' because they are all the songs from the old Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer claymation thing. Claymation gives me the creeps, always has. Just sayin'...

So, today we went back to Home Depot to pick a few things for our clothesline-improvement project and we let Adam exchange his snow globe for one more fitting his generation... Mickey & Minnie. This one plays "The First Noel" of which Adam has labeled "the most wonderful Christmas song ever!" This kid cracks me up!

Friday, December 26, 2008

So Long Santa!

Part of me loves the magic of Christmas, the other part of me very strongly "dislikes" the whole "holiday thing" in general. My family has never been into holiday get-togethers, and typically when we do get together I end up being referee to some unnecessary conflict. This year wasn't so bad though. I only had to talk one person down from the ledge and there was no begging on my part, it was basically, "come down if you want to." I've learned a lot this year, such as:
1. what I can and cannot control, 2. I can't change reality, and 3. the fact that it's not my responsibility to "keep the peace." These revelations in my life have liberated me in ways that words cannot even express. My new-found mantra this year, "It is what it is!" I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chocolate Charms

Ok, so my cookies were a big hit at the cookie exchange yesterday! So, here's the recipe for Miss Martha Stewart's Chocolate Charms. (all of you who ate them may be tempted to go and purge yourself when you see there's a half pound of butter in them, but that's what makes them oh-so-good!)

Chocolate Charms

2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus more for dusting. I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift together flour, cocoa, & salt. Set aside.
With electric mixer, beat butter & sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes
Add vanilla & scrape down sides of the bowl
slowly add the flour mixture scraping down sides of bowl if necessary. Do not over mix, stir just until flour is incorporated. Put dough onto plastic wrap, flatten into a disk and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment
using a spoon, form dough into 1-inch balls; place on baking sheet
Bake until firm, about 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through.
Cool completely, dust with cocoa powder just before serving.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temp. for up to 1 week.

Makes about 3 dozen
A Simple Woman's Daybook

A Simple Woman's Daybook for today...December 22, 2008

Outside my window...Sunshine!

I am thinking...When's my mom gonna get here so I can go finish my Christmas shopping?! She was supposed to be here already!

I am thankful for...healthy kids, my new job, kind of getting to sleep in this morning, the 3 cups of coffee I've had already!

From the learning rooms...teaching my babies about the true meaning of Christmas.

From the kitchen...I may make ham & bean soup with the leftover ham bone from our early Christmas celebration with my mom, dad, & sister on Saturday. Other than that, ummmm, not. so. sure

I am wearing...jeans, a burnt orange cable knit sweater I just got from Kohls. I'm loving this sweater. I may have to go buy a couple more in different colors. Also wearing the kitty slippers.

I am creating...not a thing!

I am the scrub store to buy new scrubs - one size larger; then I'm going to buy 3 last gifts.

I am reading...Paula Deen's "Holiday Baking" special edition magazine that Lisa gave me for my birthday.

I am hoping...for a magical Christmas with my family.

I am hearing...all three of my kids playing together nicely... wonder how long that will last!

Around the dad hung a curtain rod in my family room on Sat. and I hung curtain panels that I got from Bed Bath & Beyond. Silk panels that were originally $60 a piece, I got for $10 a piece. So, for the first time in 6 years, the 140 ft long sliding glass door in my family room has a covering!

One of my favorite things...a nice, hot cup of coffee that I get to drink while it's still hot.

A few plans for the rest of the week...celebrating Christmas!

A picture thought I'm sharing... This is my sister on my shoulders. We were just being kids. This was a nice moment. Things are often times way too serious between my sister and me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yum! Is The Word

Have I mentioned I have a minor addiction to baked goods? I made this orange cranberry bread tonight. Yummmm! I wonder if this is why my hiney has grown a size since May. Anyway, I really made it to take to work tomorrow and I had to taste it to make sure it was good.

Dinner As An Art Form

Does this make you wonder that I have way too much free time? This was tonight's dinner. I roasted this chicken upright - you just shove the bird down onto an empty soda can and voila! I got this idea from some guy on TV who grills chickens propped up on full (opened) cans of beer. It's nice because the whole chicken gets browned just like a rotisserie chicken. Anyway, when I took her out of the oven she was so nicely posed I couldn't resist adding the green bean "flare" and taking a picture. Do you think she's showing a little too much breast?

If you want to duplicate this, just heat your oven to 425 F, season your bird with a combo of salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice, & garlic (just kinda mix it all together in a bowl and rub it inside the bird and under the skin). Prop her up on a can of your liking - either full or empty, pat dry with paper towels, rub down with olive oil, & bake for about an hour. Let her rest for 1o minutes before cutting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Adam, Will You Go Close The Chicken Coop?

Adam just wouldn't/couldn't fall asleep last night. I finally let him lay on the couch with me and watch Bizarre Foods With Andrew Zimmern. He kept asking me, "Mommy, what does that taste like? What is that? Can you take me there so I can try that?" Yeah, the guy was in Japan. Anyway, around 10:00pm I brought Adam to my room where Dan was laying in bed. Dan looked at Adam and said, "Adam, can you go close the chicken coop door for me?" Adam replied, "what? At night? No way! I can't go at night! The coyote dogs might eat me up!" That cracked me up!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Where Has The Day Gone?

It's 7:30pm and this is the first chance I've had all day to sit down and write. I was running late this morning. I still have a couple of gifts to buy (insert whimper), and I have a metric ton of baking to do. I love holiday baking, but since my lovely children have graced me with their presence, I don't have the time or the energy to do as much as I want. I've also grown a pant-size this summer and for the first time in my life I have to think twice before eating too many of my favorite baked goods (insert another whimper).

I went to Panera today to get a gift card and while we were there Sophie asked me for a "donut" so I bought her a scone, which she managed to pulverize into a million crumbly pieces in the backseat of my car. When I picked A&K up from school, Katie thoroughly enjoyed every one of the larger crumbs from that cinnamon chip scone. So, it wasn't a total loss. Yeah, I'm not opposed to letting my kids eat off of the car floor, it just means less vacuuming for me. I'm sure I lost my mom badge long ago for much greater offenses. Besides, I have to admit, I ate a few of the bigger pieces before Katie got to them...that scone cost me 2 bucks!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Got It Figured Out!

So, I took the Christmas tree ornament project down from the shelf and got it figured out. My initial "design" was way too complicated for me let alone a 4-year-old. They still need to be embellished with their "ornaments" but take a look... Not bad! They really had a lot of fun stringing the beads in between the tree's "layers". Adam found a skull-shaped bead in the mix and happily exclaimed, "look mommy! I found a pirate bead. I'm going to put this pirate bead at the top of my Christmas tree!" Um, no sweetie. We'll save that "pirate" bead for another project. I finally convinced him that a star would be more appropriate.

On another note, my kids all got letters in the mail from "Santa" this week. They were THRILLED. Santa asked them to remind their mom to leave the "good" cookies and not the "diet" cookies. We have a dear friend who wrote the letters, so he really knows all about the kids and was very detailed about the areas where they've been "naughty and nice" which really floored the kids! Katie was so excited to learn that Santa was going to make our house his first stop this year! Our friend lives in east Orlando, near Christmas, Florida, so He went to the post office there so the letters would be post-marked "Christmas." It was a real treat for the kids and something for the "box o' memories."

The whole Santa thing, I have learned, is unavoidable; and since I've learned to choose my battles in life, I've "allowed" Santa to be a part of Christmas. I am adamant with my kids that Christmas is Jesus' birthday and they each get 3 gifts because the three Wise Men brought Baby Jesus 3 gifts to celebrate Hiss birth. But, how does Santa fit into this? Well, Santa was a very kind old man who wanted to share God's love by giving gifts to little children on Christ's birthday. Yeah! Somethin' like that. I think I'm pretty much done with Christmas shopping except that I need to find something for my dad. He is so hard to shop for. I hate to give gift cards! I want to give everyone something they'll love and they wouldn't get for themselves. Still have 11 days to go. I have to admit, I am more in the Christmas spirit this year than any other year since I've had kids. Although, I still haven't put the ornaments on my tree. I have good intentions to decorate, sing songs, read books, do crafts with the kids, bake cookies, bake and decorate cookies with the kids, etc. etc. etc. But what can I say? Life is out-of-control-all-consuming with just the day-to-day.

The job, AWESOME! The doctor sees about 6 patients a day. I see 9-10 super easy patients. It is so absolutely laid-back compared to my previous job. The assistant and the office manger help in every way possible. I am finally reminded of the definition of TEAM. I could not be more pleased! The doctor and the office manager both say that all of this is "serendipitous" but you and I know that this is God's divine appointment for me.

So, all's well here. I am absolutely going to embellish the tree with ornaments today and hopefully get my Christmas cards ordered - if I can get a picture of these three rascals all looking the same direction and smiling. I have a feeling there'll be some bribery involved...but it's for a good cause.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Little Progress

Well, I have finally put the lights on the Christmas tree, and while doing so the tree shed about 821 needles! So, I'm thinkin' this is the last year I'm doin' a real tree. Bah Humbug! I've been less than excited to decorate the tree because what goes up must come down. I really am less than thrilled about having to pack everything away after Christmas. Again, Bah Humbug! Anyway, yesterday I attempted to make ornaments with the twins. Uh huh, I'm a little over-ambitious because first of all, the ornament design came from my head (sometimes good, sometimes bad, this time, BAD). Second, I didn't make a prototype, so as I was trying to instruct them, I was also trying to figure out how my design was going to work. Not. So.Good. That little project is shelved until further notice. Maybe on Friday we'll make snowmen ornaments - this idea came from the Internet, not Sue's crazy, over-ambitious, any-thing-can-be-done with 2 four-year-olds, mind. I'll keep you posted. I'm off to the new job, actually looking forward to it. Have a great day...

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook~

Outside My Window...there's a fine covering of frost
I am thinking...'Tis The Season To Be Jolly
I am thankful new job, my supportive family, my friends
From the learning rooms...ok, we ARE going to get these sun catchers made this week. We are also going to make our Christmas ornaments.

From the kitchen...who knows?
I am wearing...Jeans and a beige sweater, and the infamous black and pink kitty slippers - I really don't like cats, but the kitty slippers were more cute than the doggie slippers.
I am creating...Christmas ornaments, still working on that Monkey sock. I WILL finish it this week.
I am get a haircut this week
I am reading..."Climbing The Mango Trees" It's going much slower than I had hoped. I pitched a fit (over the course of 2 months) to get my library to order this book for me, and it's not as interesting as I had anticipated. Maybe as I continue reading it will get better.
I am hoping...I'll have a wonderful week, without conflict or chaos. I'm also hoping I'll get the Christmas tree decorated.
I am hearing...Adam. He's complaining that something in his pants is hurting him. The girls are asleep - ahhh, sweet silence. Not for long, I'm late in waking them.
Around the house...W-O-R-K, nothing new there.
One of my favorite things...chocolate cake covered in chocolate ganache
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I'm working on Wed. & Thurs., other than that, it' going to be a slow week - I hope.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing... This was an attempt to get a Family Christmas Picture

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sweet Stuff

Well, now that the job situation is under control, it's time to get out of my funk and start doing some holiday baking. I have several new cookie recipes I want to try. Thin and crispy oatmeal chocolate chip are among the first on my list. My dad is always talking about these cookies that his friend's mom used to make way way back. He has lost the recipe, and being the pessimistic fatalist that he is (along with everyone else in my family), he thinks it's impossible to duplicate that recipe. Nothing motivates me more than hearing someone tell me something can't be done (most especially if it's my dad doing the telling). So, game's on! I'll keep you posted.

On another note, we had some discouraging news from Dan's dad's cardiologist. Dan's dad is having atrial fibrillation (AF) and his MD has put him on blood thinners to prevent a stroke. He had a triple bypass 4 years ago. Upon learning of the AF, Dan's dad told him that he knows he won't be here much longer. Scary stuff! The most scary, he's not saved and he doesn't speak english. When opportunities have arisen for me to "gently" witness to him, nobody would translate for me because they said it would just start a fight. So, I'm just praying... It really bugs me that we're now at that stage in our lives that we have to face the unavoidable mortality of our loved ones.

And on a more positive note, I do feel like God could use me to bring this new dentist to the knowledge of His saving grace. I asked a coworker if the doc goes to church, she quickly replied, "no." We'll see where that goes.

I decked some halls today. I put some very pretty evergreen garland with red velvet hydrangeas on my mantle today. I also put some poinsettia garland over the top of my big mirror in my front entry. So, a little de-funking is going on around here. I thought that once I got this new job I would instantly feel better. Well. I. don't. I know things take time, but I'm not sure that I'm still sore about the two (previously noted) creeps. It's just really hard being a working mom. Don't get me wrong, I like to work, it's all the other "details" that need to be worked out as a result of my working. Such as childcare - especially if the kids are sick, housework, meals, baths, etc... It's also very draining to be new-on-the-job. It really requires a tremendous amount of energy to prove myself worthy/proficient/efficient/trustworthy, among other things, the first couple of weeks. Although, these are my rules. Nobody expects as much from me as I expect from myself.

Anyway, stay tuned for a very interesting, but slightly disturbing story about Katie, a dead mouse, & an almost-empty water bottle...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Breath Of Fresh Air...

I had my working interview at an office 15 minutes from home yesterday. It went very well. Halfway through the day the office manager offered me the job and cancelled another working interview they had scheduled for another hygienist today. This office is a breath of fresh air! It's very laid back, the patients are great, the dentist is a little hard to read, but most are. He is very dedicated to his patients, and his staff, I am told. He leaves me alone to do my own thing. There is only 1 dental assistant and she helps me every chance she gets! The dentist even sent home cupcakes for my kids. The most lovely thing about the holiday time in private practice is all the sweets that get sent to he dentists by the specialists they make referrals to throughout the year. Yesterday he received a big box of the most beautifully decorated cupcakes from this little cupcake shop in Mt. Dora. He insisted that I take all the leftovers home for my kids. Very thoughtful I must say.

So, a prayer request...please pray that I will quickly adjust to the "ways" of this doctor and I'll learn to read him. Also, that I'll quickly understand the treatment-planning process for the cleanings.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside My Window...a breeze rattles the trees, a bit of sunshine highlights the grass, and gray rain clouds are scattered throughout the sky.

I am thinking...God is faithful and "He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it."

I am thankful for...the hope that is in Him. Knowing that I am never alone, "He Will never leave [me] nor forsake [me]. "

From the learning rooms...we are going to make Christmas ornaments this week. Still need to make the sun catchers from last week.

From the kitchen...ohhhh, I haven't planned that far yet, I'm afraid it's going to be one of those weeks!

I am wearing...jeans and an elbow-length t-shirt

I am creating...the mate to the Monkey sock. Still. The holiday threw a "Monkey" wrench into my knitting. I'm 1/3 of the way through and I'm committed to get through the 2nd 3rd of the sock between today and tomorrow.

I am drop A&K at preschool and then to Publix for groceries. I have my accountability group tonight.
I am reading...still reading "Climbing The Mango Trees" I don't think I've read any since last Monday.

I am LOVE this new dentist and his staff. I also hope they love me.

I am hearing...the clinking of spoons in bowls, which means A&K are being good children and eating their warm oatmeal!

Around the there ever a day without cleaning? I'm planning to do some Christmas decorating this week. I am hanging evergreen garland around my fireplace mantle, for the first time ever. I'm putting the tree in the formal living room this year because there's just no room in the family room. So, I'm doing the garland in the family room to add some "Christmas Magic" to the room where we spend most of our time.

One of my favorite things...Alfred Hitchcock movies. I love the "old fashioned" suspense minus all the immorality that today's movies offer.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I have my working interview on Wednesday. I'll work from 8:00am to 3:00pm - that's the interview. Pray for me to have discernment and for me to be able to adjust quickly to the office setting and equipment so I'll be able to work efficiently and comfortably.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing...Sophie just fell asleep sitting in the chair; so sweet!