Thursday, December 10, 2009

safety in numbers

Yesterday was our turn to host playgroup and I thought it would be fun to meet at the mall to get the pictures with Santa. A couple in the group had already seen Santa and I knew Emilia would be nervous about it, so I figured a little "peer pressure" could only help the situation (we'd done several 'drive-bys' of Santa already in preparation). Due to unforeseen circumstances, I wasn't able to make it to playgroup (thank goodness, once again, that 'A' is here and was game enough to tackle the job). However, the mamas did manage to get a group shot. Granted none of the kids looks particularly thrilled, but hey, it'll work. (I love that Santa is essentially hiding behind them).

left to right: front row, aston & kate; back row: emilia, ava, maisie (look at those tears!) and morgan.

Monday, December 7, 2009

thanks for the inspiration, em....

Warning: This post has little to do with Emilia. Those of you who are huge fans of the under 3 foot crowd - sorry to disappoint.

Saturday I co-hosted a baby shower for one of my bffs, Tracy. Tracy got the surprise of a lifetime when, over the summer, she learned that no, she was in fact, NOT done having kids and that baby #3 was on the way. Sadly, yes SADLY, T is of the 'don't-find-out-what-you're-having' crew which makes gift giving a real challenge... but we amused ourselves anyway with the thought of her giving birth to a 'girlie girl' - one who only wants pink and frills and ribbons and bows. HA!

Anyway, at the shower my friend Emily suggested that I use this blog to sometimes include recipes I've made/love/tweaked. My friends know I love to cook. Baking, not so much, but definitely cooking. I come by it honestly as both sides of my family have produced fabulous cooks, including my Dad who's classically trained. Well, I figured I'd give it a shot. So I introduce to you...
Peppermint Bark Cookies (because really, at holidaytime, is there anything better than bark?)

My mom and I have been known to scour local purveyors of bark to find the best ones. Last year we settled on World Market's bark, but this year they seem to have changed the recipe. The gold standard remains the bark at William-Sonoma. Then I came across a recipe in this month's Bon Appetit magazine, tweaked it a bit for my own purposes and gave it away at T's shower on Saturday. It was a hit!
can you tell i took this pic with my old point-and-shoot? sometimes it's just a little easier.

Peppermint Bark Cookies
Nonstick spray (aka PAM)
2 c. ap flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. room temp butter
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract (i used peppermint for more peppermintyness)
1 egg yolk
6 oz. bittersweet/semisweet chocolate (i used half each)
1/2 c. finely chopped red & white stripped hard peppermint candies (here's where you have to be picky - Brachs candies were no good - gotta get GOOD peppermints - otherwise it tastes kind of like toothpaste).

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 13x9x2 inch metal baking pan with spray, line with parchment and then spray again. Whisk flour & salt together. Beat butter in large bowl until creamy, then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 min. Beat in extract and then egg yolk. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed just to blend.

Drop by spoonfuls onto prepared pan. Then moisten fingertips to press dough into an even layer in pan. Pierce dough with fork all over.

Bake cookie base until light golden brown and slightly puffed, about 30 minutes. Place pan on rack; immediately sprinkle chocolate all over and let stand until softened. Use small offset spatula to spread chocolate over top of cookie in thin even layer. immediately sprinkle chopped peppermint candies over. Let cool completely, lift cookie from pan and cut into irregular pieces. Inhale most of bark in one sitting.

(I also modified it and made a batch with Heath bar pieces - even more delicious!)

Perhaps I'll post about my attempt at making my annual Christmas cake.... hmmm...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

thanksgiving - FINALLY!

Look - it's picturepalooza!!!!

Finally, FINALLY posting the Thanksgiving pictures. I feel better about this though, then my Halloween posting which was 2 + weeks late. It's just been crazy around here.

First, Emilia's Thanksgiving Feast at her school was last Monday, Nov. 23rd. The mamas arranged for 'special lunch' (chick-fil-a nuggets, grapes, cheese cubes, and juices). The kids had painted special tableclothes for their tables...

... and had painted little 'indian vests' made out of paper bags. So cute. Emi didn't have one because she'd been absent the day they made them.

Have to include this video of the blessing they sing - sure it's mostly the Mamas singing, but you get the idea. Too presh.

enjoying the 'feast' with her good friend, Ray.

at the beginning of the school year we had to complete a family homework project where each of us had to decorate a petal of a flower and in the center, put a pic of our family. the one on the right is ours.

friends jackson j. (emi loves him), robert, and ginna.

papa, meet ray (school bff and fellow milk-allergy-sufferer:).

cooking for papa and jackson.

dress up. (the squares on the rug are the color/shape they are 'studying' that month).

a crappy picture, but i love it because there's my emilia in the mix with a bunch of boys playing with the cars and trucks. there are 8 boys and only 4 girls in the class, but it's been great. the boys are BEYOND sweet and she loves playing with jackson, 'otro' jackson (other jackson), ray, schaefer, and alejandro.
On to actual Thanksgiving Day.
Thanksgiving morning we participated in our neighborhood 'Turkey Trot' - a 5 km. run through our neighborhood. It was an icky morning, but was tons of fun. Emilia loved it but about halfway through the run she insisted on getting out of the jogging stroller and running alongside with me. Hilarious.
post-run pics...

Back from the run, Marcus had to get working on our bird. We got one from a beautiful fresh organic 14 pounder and had brined him for 24 hours.

inspection time. yes, i used one of emilia's baby bathtubs to brine the bird in - it was the biggest thing i had. thanks ikea!

celebratory wine for running in the morning/putting turkey in oven. sure it was 11:30, whatev.

the 'kids' table - the cankurtarans came for thanskgiving so emi got to eat with alara. their china is my old set from when i was a baby.
wagon rides.

the bird - i forgot to get a pic of the table of food.

while the adults finished up eating we sent the girls upstairs to the playroom where they destroyed the room but had a blast. then they decided it would be fun to send some animals flying.

giving tuana some love. we got to break out emilia's bouncy chair and seeing tuana in emilia original thanksgiving outfit made us so nostalgic and ready for another.

someone was ready for bed... and so was alara ;)

we were so glad the sunds were able to stop by for a drink and some dessert. i didn't get a good shot of the 3 girls (they were hysterical together - could've been they were so tired), but sweet baby brooks just chilled with his mama, looking dapper in his sweater vest. scrumptious.
So these last pics are hilarious and tell such a story. It was way late (past 8) at this point and she had been running around like a crazy person for hours with Alara and Kyrie at this point. Suddenly, Emilia came out into the living room with a dish towel and did this...

someone was done!
happy happy day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

i swear i'm catching up

I promise.

A few weeks ago (ahem) we took Emilia to the 3rd rung of hell - otherwise known as Sesame Street Live! Actually, it wasn't that bad. The show was a little long and Emilia did freak out a bit at the very beginning when she thought the characters were coming towards her (they didn't). She and Ky and Morgan loved it.

pre-show photo shoot - emilia, kyrie and sweet baby brooks who slept through the entire show.

ready to see elmo.

equally excited to see elmo - NOT! :)


what to do when you can't find the car? you stick 'yrie on the roof of course!

Last Wednesday Marcus' brother, Eric (aka Tio Equis/Uncle X) and their uncle Karl-Anders (aka Tio Karl-Anders Mattas as Emilia calls him) came from Finland to spend a few days with us in route to Quito. Of course, this meant Marcus needed to buy some soccer goal nets and 'teach' Emilia how to play football.

much more interested in throwing the ball then kicking it.

um.... could y'all pass it to me?

then, just because i loved this sequence...

have i mentioned how much i love my new camera? esas muecas!

Tomorrow, her class Thanksgiving feast... I PROMISE!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

hodgepodge, part 4 - halloween

Yes, 3 weeks later - I finally have gotten around to posting Halloween pics.

Emilia had a hoppin' Halloween this year. First, at her school, they did this awesome Halloween Parade led by the preschool director, Jenny. Miss Jenny led all the kidlets on their route through the parking lot with parents lined up on both sides to cheer on the kids. The best part was watching emilia holding on to her class's walking line waving to complete strangers. Sadly, the battery in my camera had died, so the only pictures I have from that are on my iPhone. I'm sure if I was more tech savvy I could figure out the way to download them here, but frankly, I'm already three weeks behind... so we'll just move on.

On Saturday (actual Halloween) we started off at our neighborhood clubhouse where Emilia's picture was taken for the annual contest. She didn't win, but seriously, we think she was robbed.

headed to the contest - one of my faves of the night.

At the clubhouse we met up with several of our neighborhood friends including Kyrie a.k.a. Tinkerbell. The girlies enjoyed a pre-trick-or-treat lollipop.... then convinced Mr. Brad (a.k.a. "Papa 'yrie" as he's known around here) to pull them along to various houses.

lousy picture but you get the idea - Brad on kid duty - pulling Ky and Emi - Baby Brooks in the bjorn.

After hitting a couple of houses with friends, we came back to our neck of the 'hood for our street's block party. First, a quick stop at the Hickman's (our neighbors) for some treats...

when we'd practice, emilia totally had the line down, but when the moment would come to say 'trick or treat' she'd clam up.

just before the rain - the street kids - isabella (cat), reece (pony), connor (Peter Pan), porter (fireman), and emilia (not pictured: Callie, Mari, Isa, Graham, John Carter, Ethan, and Lina)

Sadly it POURED buckets on Halloween night, threatening to ruin our block party. There was far too much rain and far too many of us huddled under tailgate tents. Fortunately, another of our neighbors opened up his souped-up garage (complete with flat screen tv and USC decor) for our spread. It was a feast and the kids had a ball. The rain eventually let up just in time for us to go on our Halloween Hayride offered up by our neighbors, the Kuchinskis.

enjoying the slightly wet hayride.

The kids loved riding through the 'hood throwing candy at the trick-or-treaters. I swear there must have been a thousand kids in our neighborhood. We think people actually drop off their kids at one end and pick them up at the other because there were definitely kids no one recognized.

Best. Halloween. Yet.

Monday, November 2, 2009

hodgepodge, part 3 - finally

They're in.

Our family pics/Emi's 2 year portraits.

Our friend Catalina, is a terrific photographer - she came and took pics at Emilia's 1st birthday party just for nice. This time round we actually hired her.

She came by a couple of weeks ago and captured Emi in her natural habitat - playing with her bracelets, reading, cooking, and running outside.

The proofs are up on her website. Our password is 'emi'. Me avisan si quieren copia de alguna foto - ya saben lo que van a recibir como parte de regalo navideno.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

hodgepodge, part 2

So last Saturday our friends/neighbors the Kuchinski's, threw an Oktoberfest/Pumpkin Painting/Carving Party. Brian made homemade brats and sauerkraut (which we all enjoyed - even the kids), and many other delicious nibbles. The painting/carving was a huge success and only a little paint made it onto our clothes. (Sadly, Emi's new school shoes seem to have fallen victim and the paint won't come out - oh well).
heavy into carving/scooping duties.

emi takes a break from the pumpkins to hit the playset - they have a beautiful backyard.

xander helps marcus scoop out some seeds.


brian builds ponds and in their pond they have two turtles (Fred & Wilma). the kids LOVED them.
headed home, exhausted and making her silly 'cheese' face.