Tuesday, December 30, 2008

An Anniversary

On Sunday, Dennis and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. Only 6 years??? It seems a lot longer than that. Dennis and I dated off and on since I was 19. Neither one of us were ready for anything serious at that point and we both had a lot of living to do. We remained friends through two Peace Corps stints, two master's degrees, first teaching jobs and various moves. We have boxes of letters, numerous postcards and a couple of traveling journals to document our friendship and blossoming love. We finally decided that if we were ever going to be together that we needed to be in the same place at the same time. So, I made the move to Arizona, only to be proposed to a month later and married 3 months after that! I have to say that marrying your best friend is worth waiting 8 years for! Thanks Dennis for all of the laughter and love. Love you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Favorites #3: Richard Scarry

This year I was paging through the Magic Cabin catalog and I saw Richard Scarry's The Animals' Merry Christmas. The last I checked, this book was out of print and hard to find. I was tempted to buy it for the kids, because I loved this book growing up especially the story about the goat that wore his red long-underwear and played Santa Claus for all of the other animals that lived in the barn. I called my mom because I wasn't sure if our book made the move when my parents moved from my childhood home. Guess what? It did. Now I can read all of my favorite Christmas stories to my kids.
Now I'm signing off for a few days. Merry Christmas, everyone! Have a safe, joyous, fun-filled holiday.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Favorites #2: Lefse

I grew up in eastern North Dakota in a small town (by small, I mean less than 1,000 people). This town, like most towns in eastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota were first settled by the Swedes and the Norwegians, those hearty Scandinavian people that were accustomed to waist-deep snow, freezing winds and below-zero temperatures. I don't think Scandinavians are really known for their food, except for Swedish Meatballs. However, there is another Scandinavian favorite not well-known in most parts--LEFSE! Lefse is a large flatbread made from potatoes that is rolled out very thin and cooked on a circular griddle and is flipped by a special long-stick. Growing up, we would get our lefse from the elderly women at the Lutheran Church in town and it was the tastiest of treats. Now we get ours from the grocery store from a company called Freddy's Lefse (Why it's not called Ole's or Swen's or Lena's, I have no idea.). Lefse can be served with lutefisk (not that I would touch that stuff). Usually, I just slather a layer of butter and a sprinkling of sugar onto the lefse, roll it up and eat it.
My paternal grandmother would make lefse and once taught me how to make it. Trying to roll out mashed potatoes is one of the most frustrating tasks I've ever had, but we managed to make a batch before I threw in the towel and they tasted wonderful. Luckily, my mom still has my grandma's lefse griddle so one day (when I live in a house that is larger than a shoe box) I'm sure my mom will be happy to let me have it (she's not Scandinavian) and maybe, just maybe, I can teach myself how to make lefse. Until then, I'll settle for Freddy's because it's a holiday tradition that I would hate to do without.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Holiday Favorites #1: Chippers

Every time I come home for the holidays there are a few "musts". You know, the things that you can't get every where and those special little things that make the holidays the holidays. Well, one of my all time favorites are "chippers". Chippers are chocolate covered potato chips and while I've recently started seeing them around in other parts of the country, they've always been a part of my holiday memory. I know that chocolate covered potato chips might sound kind of disgusting, but trust me, they really are divine. They have the right amount of chocolate with a little crunch and a little bit of salt. You can buy them year 'round, but I only eat them at Christmas time. We used to buy them at a little mom and pop candy store in Grand Forks, ND called Widman's. They are still open (alas, no website!), but my parents have since moved from my childhood home and have moved to the big city of Fargo. Luckily, a fourth generation Widman opened a store there so I can get chippers at Carol Widman's Candy Shop and enjoy them without making the drive north. Now, I must go and satisfy my chipper craving!

Our Christmas Greetings 2008

Click to play Merry Christmas 2008 from the Sperles
Create your own scrapbook - Powered by Smilebox
edited to add: I forgot to mention that we send e-cards for Christmas as our way of trying to be a bit greener and a bit more generous over the holiday season. We usually send over 120 Christmas cards, that's a lot of paper considering we always sent a picture and a letter. We save about $150 doing it the e-card way. Then, we take that money that we saved and donate it to Heifer International in honor of our friends and family. This year, the kids picked out a goat, a flock of chicks, and a bunny.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Best Kiss Cookie Recipe

I know that everyone knows the original Kiss cookie recipe. (I have the same recipe at home from Dennis' mom, the year says 1961...) It's a holiday classic and a favorite at our house. However, every time I made this recipe, I thought a) that they are way too sweet and b) that there isn't enough peanut butter. Last winter, I discovered the following recipe over at Penzeys. It's just about perfect; the right amount of sweetness and peanut butter and they're super soft and chewy.

Peanut Butter Blossoms adapted from Penzeys
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 TB. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bag kisses
extra granulated white sugar for rolling

Preheat oven to 375°. Mix together room temperature butter and peanut butter. When blended add white and brown sugar, mix again, then add egg, milk, and vanilla; mix again. Gently stir in flour mixed with baking soda and salt. Chill the dough for one hour or over night. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, roll in granulated white sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Place a Kiss in the center of the cookies right away, pressing gently. The cookies will crack, that's fine. Remove from pan, let cool.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On Holiday

My family and I just finished our trek to the Dakotas right ahead of blustery weather. It seems we're snowed in for now. Anyways, posts will be sporadic the next couple of weeks until we return home after the New Year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

Eli, Sadie and I made a Gingerbread House from a kit. I was in charge of the frosting, Eli was in charge of decorating and Sadie was in charge of dumping all of the candy onto the floor. It turned out kind of cute. The candy didn't get too excessive. The kids are like Hansel and Gretel now. Every time I turn around they are nibbling at the house!
Last winter my mom (the felt queen) and I put together this little felt gingerbread house. I was inspired by this little number and decided that with my mom's help it would be easy enough to make. I purchased an already made paper mache box in the shape of a house that I just happened to find at Hobby Lobby (sorry I can't find the exact one on-line). We covered the house in wool felt by just tacky gluing it onto the box, added some frosting-like trim and cut out hundreds of candy pieces. It took some time, but it wasn't really that hard. I think it's even cuter than it's inspiration. Plus, I can store all of the pieces inside the house. I love decorating the house and sometimes I even let the kids play with it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Presents for Teachers

Eli markered up these two wooden ornaments to give his pre-school teachers for Christmas. He is very proud of them and I hope Miss Molly and Miss Lucy love them as much as I do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

The weather has been a bit nippy here in Columbus and nothing is better than soup to warm up my insides. This soup is a favorite around here and graces our table frequently. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup adapted from Cooking Light August 2004
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. grated ginger
2 stalks lemon-grass, peeled**
1/2 onion, sliced
1 carrot grated
2 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 large chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
4 ounces uncooked pasta (angel hair, ditalini, orzo, little stars, chuck soba, etc.)
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add water and broth; bring to a boil. Add carrots, chicken, pasta and mushrooms; cook 5 minutes or until chicken and pasta is done. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Discard lemongrass. Serve the cilantro thru green onions on the side and add them to the soup right before serving. Makes 8 (1 cup) servings.

**I've never actually made this using lemongrass stalks. Instead I use Gourmet Garden Lemon Grass found in a squeeze tube in the produce section of most well-stocked grocery stores. I squeeze in a good 2 Tbsp.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Coffee Filter Snowflakes

I just finished decorating our windows with these easy coffee filter snowflakes. Yes, you could use regular paper, but coffee filters are already a perfect circle so it makes the job a little easier. Just fold your coffee filter into eighths by folding the circle in half (making sure the rounded edge is lined up with each fold) four times. Then trim away, unfold, and ooh and ahh over your pretty snowflake.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Christmas Wish List

I guess the great thing about having a blog is that you can write your Christmas Wish List with the idea that you are showing other readers your current style and interests, but with the secret hope that your husband will read it and buy you something from that list. Ok, that was a really obvious hint wasn't it?

My 2008 Christmas Wish List in no particular order:

A book: Acupressure's Potent Points: A Guide to Self-Care for Common Ailments

A Yoga Fan

This simple necklace

One of these beautiful felted treasure bowls

A pretty serving bowl

A couple of these large re-usable produce/bulk-food bags

Some new winter boots (for all the snow we get in Columbus, Ha ha!)

A roasting pan with rack

Since this is a wish list, some over-priced slippers

While I'm wishing for over-priced items. This, this and/or this sweater from Boden

And since this is a "Wish List", I may as well wish big. Let's go for a camera or a car or heck, even a house (ok, so I'm not moving to Portland and it's a little bigger than what I would want to clean, but check out the great room and the kitchen. Love it.) will do!

I'm guessing I get the books...
What's on your wish list??

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Toddler Christmas Tree

We are in full Holiday mode at our house. The kids are working hard at getting the house decorated and are starting to get into the holiday spirit. Sadie decorated this simple little tree with stickers all by herself. You gotta love projects like that!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Ornament Christmas Tradition

One of my traditions with the kids is to buy them each a new ornament every year and give it to them the day that we trim the tree. I try to choose an ornament that represents who they are or what they liked that particular year. I write their name and the year on the bottom of the ornament. So, when they grow up and leave home they can have a few ornaments to take with them to put on their tree. I'm hoping that eventually they start looking forward to receiving their ornament and reminisce about the ornaments as they put them on the tree.
This year, I really wanted to get Sadie a moose ornament because whenever she hears one of us coming down the stairs she says, "I hear a moose coming." This is actually the second ornament I got Sadie. The first one was a moose riding a motorcycle. Sadie looked at it, said "That's crazy!" then dropped it on the ground and it shattered into 15 pieces. This one is not as fragile.Eli is into Matchbox Cars. He loves "love bugs" as he calls them and he loves cars with big wheels. This was the perfect ornament for Eli this year!
What are your favorite Holiday traditions?