Friday, December 30, 2011

The time to shop.

January is the time to score the retail deals. {That is if Christmas hasn't completely sapped your shopping motivation.}

Skylar, Finley and I went out today to see what bargains could be had.

Really I was just trying to get everyone out of the house so that Micah could take a nap and hopefully recover from this debilitating illness that has seized him and ruined his week of vacation.

So I was left unchaperoned and to my own devices with two small children that have to stay warm.

I had two goals (in addition to the welfare of my ailing husband of course):

I wanted to stock up on discount toys for the birthday parties to come this year, and to score some bargains on clothes for the kids for next winter.

Toys are 50% off at Target right now. They will soon be 75% off--I know this from last year. This is the time to stock up people! Especially if you know you have 18 birthday parties in the year to come.

And at Old Navy....75% off sales all over the place.

Then a trip to Petco so the kids could watch the ferrets play for ten whole minutes. {Seriously....maybe I need a ferret around here so I can cook dinner. Not.}

Anyway, as I was doing my own scavenging, Skylar was doing a little shopping of her own. She found a pair of bunny slippers and a puffy vest that she loved. The slippers were $3 and the puffy vest $6, so she was allowed to get them. She put them on as soon as she got home and said......

"I feel......famous!"

How she even knows what that means is beyond me.

Here's a blurry shot of her little booty shake.

We did not teach her this, she was just born this way.....

Now you know how to feel famous {for under $10}.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It came!

Finally, a little bit of snow....

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A quiet little Christmas.

This was our first Christmas in eight years that it was just us without any extended family.

I thought it would be kind of sad and lonely and too quiet.

But in the end it was fun and relaxing.

{And not quiet at all.....Skylar does live here after all}.

It was nice to not travel or worry about cooking 20 different things for a big dinner.

Christmas morning had us playing "grocery store" at 5:30 am......

Finley joined us awhile later and Skylar was happy to help him open his presents.....

The whole family took a nap at 9:30 in the morning and then opened our presents around noon when everyone woke up again. It was awesome!

We waited all week for snow that never came. So instead of a sled ride we had a wagon ride. Not having a white Christmas in these parts is almost unheard of. Last December we got 71 inches, this

In the end it was a perfect Christmas and we are so thankful to be together this year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peace and Good.

Skylar has been walking around the house in her "Jesus dress" (aka: bed sheet costume from the church Christmas musical) delivering her very important line over and over and over.

Not a line from the musical--she didn't have one--and except for yelling "Hi mom!" and mouthing "Take a picture of me", she did exactly what she was supposed to.

All she had to do was sing "Away in the Manger" with sign language.

But as I was pinning the bed sheet to her body and cutting it out (the second frantic night-before costume making episode of the year) she suddenly burst out with.....


(Yep, just good).

And she's been dramatically declaring it ever since.

Believe it or not, that's only a third of the poses she managed to fit into one short sentence.

(And Glory in the Highest by Chris Tomlin just came on Pandora while I was typing this, how appropriate is that!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not the sharpest tool.

Sweet, dopey, eager, endlessly patient with the kids and perpetually hungry.

But so much.
He had a "not very smart" moment the other night.

Micah was making a fire for me (like he does every night so I can drink a glass of wine and wrap presents). 

He was messing around in the fireplace and left to get a load of wood from the basement. I was sitting on the couch reading and paying absolutely no attention to the dog when I realized he was eating something.

He's always eating something.

Just then Micah walked back in the room with the wood and we realized simultaneously that the dog was finishing off the Duralite fire starter log.

He just ate it straight out of the fireplace.


"We have to take him to the vet RIGHT NOW!" I yell.

"No! Let him die!" Micah yells. (Okay, he didn't say to let him die, but what he did say wasn't very nice).

So I decided the first step was to call poison control, all the while very thankful that I had never had a reason to call poison control before, and at least it wasn't for one of the kids.

I called people poison control, not realizing there is a separate poison control for animals.

But the nice lady helped me anyway and didn't make me call the other number. She said calling the animal poison control costs $65. Who knew?

After going through the ingredient list with me (mostly wax and wood by-products) it was determined that he would not die, but could get very sick.

We put him in the basement with a bowl of water and woke up the next morning expecting to see Armageddon.

And there was nothing.

None of the prophesied diarrhea. No vomit. Just a hungry dog.

What he lacks in brains he compensates for with a gut of steal.

And the next time we used a starter log Micah realized it does smell exactly like a dog treat.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The crazy wreath lady.

 This year I can't stop with the wreaths.

A couple of weeks ago at the comissary I went to the back of the produce department to inquire about wreaths. They carried them last year, so where were they this year?

I was told they weren't putting them out because they made too much of a mess last year.

(And I suppose because they are a government organization they can afford to purchase inventory and then just not sell it???)

So there they were just sitting in the back, piles of wreaths, not being sold because nobody knew they were there.

I asked for two.

He said he would give them to me for three dollars.

So I said, "I'll take four...make that six!"

Okay, so I have eight.

But they smell so good and we have a fake tree, so it kind of compensates to have that fresh piney smell all over the house. (And you know....needles dropping left and right).

I have put them everywhere inside and out. And thanks to my 75% off post-Christmas shopping extravaganza at Target last year, I have oodles of ornaments to put on them.

In the playroom I used scrapbook paper cut-outs of Finley and Skylar's little hands....

 The living room wreath and mantle are loaded down with all of those discount ornaments. {The three reindeer are from the Target dollar spot. I love them.}

 And I'll spare you a tour of all eight wreaths, so here's just one more (and I just realized a light bulb is out in one of the porch lights when I looked at this picture).

Monday, December 19, 2011

He wants you to know....

....that his teeth are ruining his life.

I have never seen a child teeth like this....

screaming like a velociraptor from 8 pm to 3 am.....

the whole family awake and miserable and sleep deprived......

immune to tylenol, teething tablets and orajel....

banging his hands against his head all day because it hurts....

I took him to the doctor today for the THIRD time just to make sure there is no ear infection....

He's totally fine.

Except that he's not.

He's miserable.....

All I want for Christmas is to sleep.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lazy girl caprese salad.

I talked Micah into letting me throw a little Christmas party this year.

If these walls could talk, I'm pretty sure they would beg for parties.

This house was made for entertaining.

I like to think of all the soiree's that have occurred here in the last 111 years.

I didn't want a potluck party, everything these days is a potluck (which I really do appreciate most of the time!)

But I wanted it to be a no-strings-attached, come-empty-handed party where people could relax and enjoy themselves without having to think about making something.

I may have invited 40 families because I knew so many people would have scheduling conflicts or be out of town and I wanted to ensure we would still have a crowd.

We ended up with 10 families making it, which I thought was a perfect number--roughly 40 people give or take.

We had a fun, crazy, busy, full house......lots of everywhere.....and I got the party bug out of my system until April when it's birthday week for the little Rue's.

I didn't want the party preparation to be stressful so I did all of the desserts ahead of time, used disposable paper products (sorry earth!) and kept food prep simple the day of.

(Well...simplish. I would like to think I'm a minimalist, but let's be real here...I'm not. I am trying though).

My plan was to some make caprese salad skewers that I saw in Southern Living. (Thanks Nana for keeping me in the southern loop!) They had a cherry tomato, a bit-sized mozzerella ball, and a large tortellini on a skewer drizzled with balsamic vinegar and basil. Very festive and easy.

But in the end, I was too lazy to make skewers so I changed my plan and bought smaller versions of the above ingredients and threw it all in a bowl.

And I may have fallen in love and found something that I want to eat every day for lunch.

In a bowl combine:

1 container of grape tomatoes sliced in half
1 container of mozzerella pearls (found in the deli section)
1 box of cheese tortellini cooked al dente

Over the top I drizzled some balsamic vinegar (use the good stuff for this--something imported from Italy) and some basil. Mix together and refrigerate until eating time.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Buckeye and the Oreo Lollipop.

Making buckeyes has become a Christmas tradition in this household.

I would argue that chocolate and peanut butter is the best combination in the world. Period.

(Unless of course you're allergic to peanut butter and a buckeye would kill you--that would be a sad fate indeed.)

Some of ours are given away in confection boxes, others shared at parties, but the vast majority are destined to be devoured behind closed doors......

Traditionally they are only partially dipped in chocolate to resemble an actual buckeye, but I don't believe in halfway dipping things in chocolate. (Well okay, except pretzel rods...but only because you need a handle).

I like to use a recipe with as little butter and as much peanut butter as possible.

My favorite:

1 1/2 cups of peanut butter
1/2 cup of butter (softened)
1 tsp of vanilla
1 pound of powdered sugar
1 bag if semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Mix the first four ingredients together, make it into little balls (easier with a mini scoop), chill them for awhile to firm them up and then dip in the melted chocolate!

Or if you're lazy like me, keep the balls in the freezer and dip as needed (I find the process tedious).

And this year for the little people in Skylar's life, we are making Oreo pops......

You are going to need a whole lot of melted white chocolate for this one. I used white chocolate chips because the candy making chocolate disks weird me out. (White chocolate in general kind of weirds me out, but that's a personal problem).

2 bags of white chocolate chips
1 bag of oreos (whatever flavor you like--I used double stuff)
Popsicle sticks
Sprinkles/decorations of choice
Lollipop bags to wrap them in

Melt the chocolate, then open the oreos and dip the popsicle sticks in white chocolate before pressing them into the cream and closing the oreo again. Give them a few minutes to harden before dipping.

(This step is first two oreos slid right off the stick when I dipped them.)

When they firm up just dip the oreo and decorate (I found it easier to kind of frost the oreo with a knife).

Then give one to your husband and hide the rest. (Also a crucial step!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Baby's have all the fun.

I wish I could pull off a head to toe sweater outfit. It looks so comfy....

But alas, knits look so much better on baby bulges then they do on mommy bulges. So not fair.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Balloon pool.

I was doing my most dreaded task the other day {folding laundry} with HGTV on in the background {my mindless channel of choice}. They had a Christmas special with celebrity homes being decorated for the holidays. Most of the decor was atrocious, but there was a swimming pool filled with silver and white balloons to mimic snow.

Today I was rummaging through a closet and found a bag of balloons. Our pug is obsessed with balloons, so Skylar and I like to play "keep away" with him as he hits the balls with his nose like a seal. 

Finley wanted in on the fun, but he was getting frustrated that they were floating away from him...and then I remembered the pool.

So out to the sketchy, spider-laden attic over the garage I went and retrieved our dirty kiddy pool {today was the second time I've ever gone up those stairs} and then  attempted to wash it in the utility sink in the basement to avoid the freezing hose water outside.

 Our non-celebrity version wasn't nearly as elaborate, but the balloons were contained enough for Finley to grab them and Skylar was entertained long enough for me to finally hang up curtains in the playroom (it's only been 5 months since I took them down to paint).

Friday, December 9, 2011


Yesterday was one of those days where we didn't even leave the house.

When I quit working to stay home with Skylar, the thought of spending a whole day in the house with nowhere to go made me all panicky. How was I going to fill an entire day?

And when Micah is away I cram our schedule to fill the days and pass the time.

(After Finley was born, I realized that maybe three bible studies was overly ambitious with a newborn, but I was already committed at that point.)

But now that I have an extra pair of hands at the end of the day, and adult conversation, I am at this new phase of life.....the "it's okay to not be busy for a day" phase.

It's weird, but I kind of like it.

If the kids wake up crabby and we are all off on the wrong foot, instead of pushing us all out the door to the first scheduled activity, I just don't go.

It's so simple, but I've never done that before.

That's what happened yesterday.

I desperately wanted to make it to a 9 am class at the Y and it just wasn't happening. Finley has been a mess for days with more teeth coming in and was already ready for a nap.

This is pretty much what he's looked like all week. It's so sad. (And I know it's not his fault, but at 23 pounds he's so darn heavy to carry around all day!)

So the kids took a looooong bubble bath, I showered, we put on new pajamas, and we stayed that way all day.

I pulled out Skylar's nativity set that Micah's mom got her last year. It's a big hit around here. She loves to rearrange it.

At some point she disappeared for awhile and then came back and said...."Mom will you forgive me?"

She had drawn all over her mouth and then tried to clean it off herself before realizing she couldn't get it all off and I was going to see it eventually.

So I called her Pedro and spoke in Spanglish the rest of the day, which really bugged her.

We made gingerbread cookies with creepy cute faces.....

The Finster woke up feeling like a new man, and then 15 minutes later was back to his whiny self. It was nice while it lasted.

Today we hit up the town Christmas party for one reason, and one reason only.

Not Santa. Not the free toy, cookies, or hot chocolate.

Not to meet Dora or Swiper.

Not even for the bounce house or balloon animals.

We skipped all of the above.

Skylar went for the pony rides alone. She's been talking about it since last year.

And there were bunnies too. And a big nasty sheep that she couldn't stop petting.

Finley ate baby snacks and sat in the driver's seat like big stuff.

And on totally unrelated note, if you like the Jelly Belly then I have good news for you. For a limited time you can scoop up a bag of Belly Flops...all the messed up jelly beans that didn't make the cut.....for just $3 a pound. Merry Christmas to all the jelly belly lovers out there.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Oh so pretty.

There is a sign that I drive by several times a week.

It's outside of a warehouse and it reads "Free Pallets".

And every time I see that sign, this beautiful picture from Under the Sycamore pops into my head, and I think for the zillionth time "I am sooooo going to make one of those someday".

It's amazing.....and I love the sideways door as a headboard.

But instead of pulling over and shoving pallets in my car, I just keep driving.


And since I'm on the topic of the genius that is Ashley Ann, I have been in love with this idea of hers as well. Every time I go into an antique or thrift store I look for doilies.

A girl can dream.....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pumpkin buttercream frosting.

So for Bekah's 21st birthday we celebrated with this chocolate/spice cake/ganache/pumpkin buttercream concoction. (Sounds like way too much going on, I know).

It wasn't "professional cake pretty" (I have no patience or interest in cake decorating) but it was tasty and thankfully all of those flavors actually worked.

It started off as a spice cake with ganache frosting intended as a dessert for Thanksgiving.

But then we had so many desserts it was never frosted. Or even taken out of the pans.

Two days later it was B's birthday, but it seemed wrong to use a two-day old spice cake for her birthday. So I made a chocolate cake as well and decided to go with four layers to be fancy.

I didn't want to do a ganache filling. I haven't had much luck with that. The layers just slide around.

So I decided on buttercream.

But I wanted to tie in the "spice cake" part so at the last minute I added a couple of dollops of pumpkin puree to the frosting.

Then I whipped some unsweetened cream and folded it in to lighten it up. 

Thus the spice cake evolved into this mess....

The pumpkin buttercream is great with spice cake, gingerbread cupcakes or chocolate cake.

So here's the frosting:

1 stick of butter softened
A glug of vanilla (I'm really precise here)
A couple teaspoonfuls of unsweetened canned pumpkin.
Most of a bag of powdered sugar.
Then I add a little milk until it reaches the consistency I like.

At this point it's ready to go.

BUT if you fold in some whipped cream it makes a great filling or lighter frosting.

Now go find an excuse to frost something.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Easy holiday centerpiece.

This is my favorite holiday centerpeice.

When I find something that I like, I repeat it the next year. Why change what works, right?

Three glass cylinders (purchased a couple of years ago at Wally World....$4 or $5 each I think).

Three unscented pillar candles....Wal-mart $2.88 each

A bag of cranberries...$1 at Aldi.

Some bulk nuts (found in any grocery stores this time of year)....$2.

Cinammon from the pantry.

Greenery cut off my bush.

There are endless options here. I like to stick with natural things, but your imagination is the limit.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rice art.

I am always looking for ways to entertain Skylar. Art projects are her favorite thing.

So this morning I decided she could glue some noodles to paper. And just to be fancy, we would even dye them first.

When I checked the pantry we didn't have the right shapes for gluing, BUT the bag of rice was sitting there.

So we improvised and grabbed that rice and dyed it in baggies with food coloring.

And it was a hit!

It works just like sand art. (No doubt fun moms everywhere have already done this and I'm just now thinking of it.)

I made shapes for her to fill in and then I did a "mystery picture" with the glue stick that she couldn't see until she shook off the rice.

 So now I have one more trick in my snowy day arsenal.


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