Wednesday, December 31, 2008
In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? 366 (leap year, baby!)
In cups of coffee? Ugh, I don't even want to think about that...
In inches? Ava grew about 2 1/2, Emily about 4.
In miles? We put about 2000 miles on the mini van just driving down to Disneyland...
In laughter? In strife? Having two little girls gets me a lot of both.
In 525,600 minutes how do you measure a year in the life?
Measure in love.
Much love to you all, and a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Emily at the mall:
Ava makes a snow angel:
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It made the annual Barsotti holiday cookie baking party feel very Rockwell-esque. Especially when Joel's brother brought over some homemade eggnog!
It made showing Ava how to make a snow angel even more special.
Drinking your afternoon tea with your homemade cookies is definitely more fun if you do it while wrapped in a blanket on the couch near a window where you can watch the snow pile up.
Being snowed in means you have to get creative when thinking of ways to entertain your children (and husband!). Did you know that you can freeze paint in ice cube trays? Just add a bit of water and then the kids have icy paint cubes...something new! A girlfriend gave me a great idea for playing with snow without getting too cold: Pile it into the bathtub! Get the sand toys and trains out and go to town. When everyone gets too cold, run a warm bath.
It made for a very fun trip to see the lights on Peacock Lane. Christmas lights defninitely look prettier with snow falling around them.
My personal favorite: pack some snow into a pie plate. Drizzle maple syrup in small patterns. Let the syrup harden and then you have yummy maple candy to decorate cookies or cupcakes (or a stack of pancakes) with. YUM.
What are your favorite things about this time of year?
Thursday, December 18, 2008
SALTINE CRACKER TOFFEE
1 sleeve Saltines crackers
2 sticks butter
2 c. brown sugar
12 oz. pkg. chocolate chips
Lay crackers side by side in a half sheet pan (the big cookie sheet with edges all around). Bring butter and sugar to boil and continue boiling until soft ball stage. Pour toffee over crackers. Bake in 400 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Watch carefully so doesn't burn. Sprinkle chips over toffee/crackers and return to oven for 30 seconds to melt. Smooth with rubber spatula. Cool to set and harden. Crack and enjoy. Or send it to work with your husband so you don't enjoy it too much.
Of course, those of you with nut allergy free children can add chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans would rock, as would the dreaded peanut...yum!) just after spreading the chocolate smooth.
If you have last minute teacher, coworker, or neighbor gifts, or if you are just feeling cranky, Christmas Crack is sure to please! Just don't say I didn't warn you...
To help her feel better, I took her and Emily to run some errands this morning, including a trip to the mall to run around at the playground (aka germ structure) and to see Santa. This is the first year that Ava did scream bloody murder at the sight of Santa (that job was left the Emily...NOT THE MOMMA!!), and I'm guessing that it's due to the fact that this is the year that she "gets" that Santa is the man who brings her presents if she's good. She wrote him a letter at school asking for momma to "please let her eat some candy, but not candy with nuts because nuts are icky and make me die." No really - her teacher gave me her letter. It's quite hilarious! Anyway, I was worried that she would tell the mall Santa about how her mean momma doesn't let her have candy, but all she asked for were ponies and rainbows. Which is good, since I got her a pony set with a rainbow house...Momma and Santa are definitely thinking alike this year. Meanwhile, as previously mentioned, Emily wanted absolutely nothing to do with Santa. She simply kept saying "MOMMA! MOMMA!" and tried to get away from the scary bearded man. Poor Santa. We did get one shot of Ava grinning from ear to ear and Emily screaming bloody murder. I didn't have the heart to pay $30 for it though.
I'm hoping that the roads will still be driveable tomorrow so that we can hit up our MOMS Club holiday party. If not, it will be another day of hanging out at home sprinkling glitter on anything that stands still.
In other news, the gifts have (finally) all been purchased, and most of our homemade gifts for family have been finished. Now we just need to start wrapping (and finding places for those wrapped presents!). Chanukah starts Sunday night, and I'm hoping that the weather will cooperate long enough to drive to North Portland to have a nice latke and brisket dinner with my mom.
Here's hoping that wherever you are, you're able to keep crossing things off of your holiday to do list so that you can spend time with your family and friends!
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Instead, I get to bring you the best of the 100+ blogs that I subscribe to...lucky you!
Joel's aunt has the best little village in her house for the holidays and I enjoy seeing it every year. I found this idea for a homemade version and thought that it would be fun to do with Ava with the boxes after the gift opening is all over.
I have quite a few batches of cookies made, but I have a few left to go. These candy cookies are definitely on the list. Since we're peanut free here, I plan on doing sugar cookies with Rolos, brownie with 3 Musketeers, and chocolate chip with Milky Ways. But peanut butter cookies with a baby Reese's cup sounds freaking awesome. Someone please indulge in that one for me. YUM, YUM, and more YUM. Thank the gods that the gym is open 24 hours...
I am definitely going to start making one of these in January...how cute is that?! I suck at knitting, but I can embroider like the dickens!
Two words that sound great in the same sentence: Duck and Crockpot. I'm definitely going to be trying this recipe soon!
What happens when you send your husband to the grocery store instead of going yourself? You end up with a box of Fruit Loops. Seriously, Joel? Well, that's OK, I felt like the tree needed some garland anyway, so Ava and I are going to string some up. And probably eat some too.
I've been scouring the internet for ideas for things to keep the girls busy if school and activities are cancelled for the rest of the week. I found this idea for cornflake wreaths in a magazine at the doctor's office the other day. I think I'll do half wreaths and half Star of Davids. mmmm...
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Emily loves art, especially finger painting! We added some glitter to this masterpiece when it was finished and she gave the best ever happy toddler squeal:
The toddlers really didn't care about cookie decorating. They were just happy to climb all over the table and fireplace:
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Ava and Emily's cookies came out a bit messy, but it's nothing frosting won't cover up. We're hosting a cookie decorating party tomorrow afternoon for our playgroup. These are moms and kids that Ava and I met through the new moms group at St Vincent's when she was just 2 weeks old. We've been meeting weekly for the last 3 and a half years! Crazy!
Ava had so much fun rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes. We made some letters to string up for a banner as well. Of course that led to her only wanting to use the A and V cutters...
Our tree, only missing the ornaments at the bottom:
Friday, December 5, 2008
These barrettes would be cute stocking stuffers for the girls, and would be cute gifts for thier friends, too!
We have so many parties and get togethers to go to this month, and I love this list of goodies that are perfect to take with.
Do you love Etsy like I do? If so, check out their holiday gift guide! So many cute gift ideas!
Two words: Cake balls. Mmmmmmm...I'm planning on making a several varieties for a party next weekend.
Making soap in my crockpot sounds like a fun prject for Ava and I to do while Em is napping.
What a cute idea this is! I love the idea of using your holiday card photo for something like this.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Amish Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
from The Recipe Girl
1/3 cup milk
2 Tbs butter
½ cup canned pumpkin or mashed cooked pumpkin
2 Tbs granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 large egg, beaten
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
** I used 2 cups of whole wheat bread flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbs melted butter
¼ cup (4 Tbsp.) butter
½ cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbs milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
dash of salt
½ to ¾ cup sifted powdered sugar
1. Prepare rolls: In a small saucepan, heat milk and 2 Tbsp. butter just until warm (120 - 130°) and butter is almost melted, stirring constantly.
2. In large mixer bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar and salt. Add milk mixture and beat with an electric mixer until well mixed. Beat in egg and yeast. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flours. Add half of flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Beat mixture on low speed for 5 minutes, scraping sides of bowl frequently. Add remaining flour and mix thoroughly (dough will be very soft). Turn into lightly greased bowl, then grease surface of dough lightly. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
3. Punch dough down. Turn onto floured surface. Knead a few turns to form a smooth dough, sprinkling with enough additional flour to make dough easy to handle. On lightly floured surface, roll dough into 12x10-inch rectangle.
4. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Brush surface of dough with melted butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Beginning with long side of dough, roll up jelly-roll style. Pinch seam to seal. With a sharp serrated knife, gently cut roll into twelve 1-inch slices. Place rolls cut-side-up in greased 9-inch-square baking pan.
5. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake rolls about 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove from pan to waxed paper-lined wire rack. Cool 10 to 15 minutes.
7. While rolls are cooling, prepare icing: In small saucepan, heat butter until melted. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Stir in brown sugar and milk. Cool over medium-low heat for 1 minute. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and cool mixture slightly. Stir in vanilla, salt and powdered sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until well blended. If necessary, add more powdered sugar for desired consistency.
8. Drizzle icing over warm rolls.
Yield: 12 rolls
My original plan was to take Ava to tea at a hotel downtown, but last night she told me that she wanted to buy her sister a present for the holidays, so I decided that we should try that instead. We went to a few stores, and while Ava had more fun playing with the display toys and picking things to go on her own wish list, she ended up buying a cute doll for Emily. The doll is toddler-friendly and has easy on and off clothing. Perfect for practicing zippers, buttons, and lacing. It's pretty cute and actually looks a lot like Emily!
After that, we went for some hot chocolate at the mall Starbucks, and then we went to Sephora to try on lip gloss. Ava lasted 30 minutes in there until we ran into a make up artist who actually wanted to put a full face of make up on my three year old (!!!!!), so we ened up going to Nordstrom to buy new shoes (as Ava's feet have grown a size and a half in the last few months). Of course, like her mama, Ava had the most fun in the purse department and is now in love with the same Marc Jacobs bag that I am. Here's hoping that she really does grow up to be a surgeon!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
This year, we decided to put those scraps of paper into our advent calendar, and since Chanukah starts 3 days before Christmas, we will have a few Chanukah focused projects for a few days.
Here's our list for 2008 in no particular order:
1. Make cookies and deliver them to the local fire station.
2. See Santa at the mall.
3. Make popcorn and watch a holiday movie together.
4. See the lights on Peacock Lane.
5. Make real hot chocolate, complete with homemade marshmallows.
6. Write letters to Santa.
7. Print out Holiday coloring pages and color them together.
8. Buy and decorate the Christmas tree
9. Read the true story of Christmas.
10. Make gifts for the grandparents.
11.Open one present early.
12. See the Tigard Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
13. Play a game of dreidel.
14. Have a homemade pizza night.
15. Make an ornament for our tree.
16. Bake cookies for our family.
17. Go to the library to check out books about Chanukah and Christmas.
18. Go downtown to see the tree and lights in Pioneer Square.
19. Make a present or stocking stuffer for Daddy.
20. Read a Chanukah book.
21. Light a fire and roast some marshmallows.
22. Take a walk around the neighborhood to see the lights.
23. Read the Night Before Christmas.
24. Make holiday decorations for the house.
25. Fill up a box of toys to give to charity, and take the girls with us when we donate.
What special traditions have you started with your family?
Thursday, November 27, 2008
1/3c warm water
1 pkg(1/4oz) or scant Tbsp yeast
1c quick-cooking oats
2 Tbsp butter
1/3c brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 3/4-5 1/4c flour
Dissolve yeast and white sugar in warm water. Allow yeast to activate (bubble). In a small saucepan, bring 2c water to a boil. Add oats and butter, and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat and continue to stir till butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Add oat mixture to a large bowl, and add yeast mixture, brown sugar, salt, and 4 cups of flour. Stir till smooth. Add enough remaining flour to create a soft dough. Turn out onto a well-floured surfae and knead till smooth and elastic (about 4-6 minutes).
Place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel or with plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray. Allow to rise till doubled, about 45minutes-1hr. Punch dough down. Allow to rest 10 minutes or so. Shape into 18 balls.
Place in 2 greased 9" baking pans (I used pie plates). Cover and let rise till doubled, about 30-40 minutes.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen rolls.
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I've tried a few new recipes lately and thought I'd share the ones we liked best:
Honey Of An Oatmeal Bread
Follow the amounts in the parentheses to make a larger loaf.
1 cup water (1 1/3 cups)
1 T vegetable oil (1 1/2 T)
1/4 cup honey (1/3 cup)
1 tsp salt (1 tsp)
1/2 cup rolled oats (3/4 cup)
2 1/3 cups bread flour (3 1/3 cups)(sub up to 1 cup whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup oat bran (optional)
1 tsp active dry yeast (1 1/2 tsp)
Place ingredients in bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Light Crust or Basic setting, and press Start.
This is a moist, yummy bread with a nice firm crust - perfect for sandwiches or toast.
Lower Fat Banana Bread
2/3 c white sugar
1/4 c margarine, softened (butter)
1 c mashed bananas
1/4 c water
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour (1 c whole wheat & 2/3 c all-purpose)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray one 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, beat the white sugar and margarine or butter until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs, water and bananas with the sugar mixture until it is well blended. Combine the dry ingredients, add, and mix just until the mixture is moistened. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to blend all ingredients. Bake for about 60 minutes. Bread is done when the top is firm to the touch and a golden brown color. Time will vary according to loaf size and oven type. When bread is removed from oven, allow it to cool on its side for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack. This bread is also excellent if you add mini chocolate chips or small fruit pieces to the mix just before baking.
Ayelet's notes: I use applesauce instead of the butter and half of the sugar. Very yummy with chocolate chips stirred in just before putting into the pan.
Iced Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup chunky-style applesauce
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup golden raisins
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Make cookies: Preheat oven to 350. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined. Add egg and applesauce, mix until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix in raisins.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden and just set, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack set over parchment paper; let cool completely.
Make icing: Whisk confectioners' sugar, syrup, and 3 tablespoons water until smooth. Drizzle over cookies, let set.
Ayelet's Notes: I used half the sugar called for in the cookies and thought they were pretty sweet. I also only made a half recipe of icing and had a lot leftover. These were soft, moist, and yummy!
On another note, it seems like people really like the list I posted last week...I will try to make it a weekly thing! I'm glad to have introduced some of you to Jamie, Deb, and the Manic Mommies. They make my life a happier place!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
These cakes. Can a girl get some fondant and shimmer powder, stat?
This salad. If you're invited to Thanksgiving, be prepared to eat it...or battle the daddy and I over it...
These ladies. Are they spying on me or something? Manic Mommies and Jamie Oliver - the only podcasts I have love for.
I've always said that the only thing to break up my marriage will be video games. Maybe Joel can get me this and a DS for Hannumas this year? Wait, maybe Jamie will break up my marriage...hmmm...
Four words: Salted. Caramel. Hot. Chocolate. Sorry pumpkin spice latte, but I've been a bad, bad girl. Deb's pictures of Paris aren't too shabby, either.
I love Etsy. It makes me wish I had more time to be crafty - maybe I could make some money! I want this bowl. A lot.
We certainly have enough leaves to make one of these cute monogramed wreaths! I think that would be such a fun naptime project for Ava and I!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Of course, I like to look at how the sports world will predict things...last night the Washington Redskins hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers for Monday Night Football. In all 17 times that the Redskins have played before a presidential election, if they won, the incumbent party won the election, and it they lost, the challenging party won. Well, the Steelers put a huge beating on the 'Skins last night...23-6. Yep, I'm going to challenge Kenny Mayne for his job...watch out buddy!
Here's hoping that the football gods and PS at St Anthony School are both psychic.
If you haven't already done so, get out there and VOTE!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
5-10% of women in their child-bearing years have PCOS, and it is not always easily diagnosed. My OB admitted that this was the last thing on her list when she was considering the cause of our losses. It just goes to show that things do happen for a reason, and thankfully, if I ever want another baby, we have some options.
And speaking of babies, Jack Rigsbee Barsotti was born yesterday just before noon and is the spitting image of his daddy. Welcome to parenthood, Nick and Sarah! May it be a lovely ride.
Monday, October 27, 2008
We're all fine, aside from some bruises (and the driver of the car in front of me had a nasty cut on his forhead). The driver who hit us was driving with a suspended license was driving someone else's car. He was completely unapologetic, leaving the deputy in charge to whisper to me that if I happened to kick him in the shins, the deputy never saw a thing.
I never knew how much I loved my mini van until I saw it all broken. Moment of silence for my wounded soldier. And speedy labor vibes to my sister-in-law!
I got the idea at one of my favorite websites, No Time for Flashcards. Allie has the best ideas (and of course, I like the way she spells her name!). Emily had fun using the crayons, and Ava had fun with all of the glueing (the google eyes in particular).
Last week was a rush of baking, playgroups, and hunting down the last bits and baubles for Halloween costumes (the girls are going to be ballerinas - pictures to come!). Emily had her 15 month check up (the results - she's perfect, just as we have always known), the girls got their flu shots, we went to our friends' annual Halloween bash, and we did some reorganizing of the toys, since they had once again taken over the entire house.
1 ¼ c all-purpose flour
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg. Fold mixture into dry ingredients. Spray or grease a skillet and heat over medium heat; pour in ¼ cup batter for each pancake. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. Serve with butter and syrup. Makes about six 6-inch pancakes.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
And yes, I made those shirts. You can too - just click here. And if you're cool like me, you have a friend like I do who decided that our playgroup should do this at her house while the kids were distracted by a tea party with her fancy china. Brigitte, you're a much braver momma than I am! Martha would be so proud.
Friday, October 17, 2008
That would be the pink balloon she got at the restaurant where we ate lunch. Apparently, she's in love.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Of course, Ava could not be outdone by her younger sister:
Mommy should have known what would happen next when this look came across Ava's face:
Tackling your sister...Is never a good idea.
Lest you all think it's homemade-organic-free range-hands on-age appropriate-learning here 24/7...
The air is cool, the season is fall.
Soon Halloween will come to all.
The ghosts ar after things to do.
In fact, a ghost brough this to you!
"BOO" shields you from the witching hour.
Just hang it up and watch its power.
On your front door is where it works.
It wards off spirits and evil jerks.
A treat came with this crypted note.
They're yours to keep, enjoy them both.
The power comes when friends like you
Will copy this and make it two.
Then others here among our friends
Will give warm fuzzies that will not end.
We'll all have smiles upon our face.
No one will know who "BOO"ed whose place.
Just two short days to work your spell
Or a big ZAP will strike your tail,
And don't forget a nifty treat
Like something cute or something sweet.
Please join the fun, let's really hear it
And spread some "BOO"s and Halloween spirit.
Since I'm the president of our chapter, you'd think I would have been able to figure out who BOO'd me, or how the BOOing got started! Oh well, it was such a welcome treat for the kids and I during a long day.
Today after school, Ava and I made some candy corn cookies and filled some cute Halloween containers with them (and the copies of the BOO note) and delivered them a few members of our MOMS Club. What a fun little tradition! I think that this is a cute idea to do in your neighborhood or with a playgroup or other organization, and really could be adapted for and holiday.
Our candy corn cookies:
Our BOO bags: