happy holidays bloggy friends

Wow, it’s been awhile. Thanks for stopping by! I’m still trying to figure out why Christmas was even busier than usual this year. Could it be my obsession to make everything as close to perfect as possible? I decided to make a lot of gifts this year instead of shopping. I probably spent as much time shopping for supplies, but I didn’t have to pull my hair out coming up with individual ideas for each member of our two large families. Here are a few of the homemade gifts...




After a bit of trial and error, I think these turned out pretty well. There’s a wonderful soap supply company in town that helped make this project much easier by supplying me with melt-and-pour blocks and awesome molds. I wish I could add a scratch and sniff here so you could smell their wonderfulness. The bee soaps are scented with an almond/honey oil that makes them smell yummy enough to eat.




My daughter did all the decorating of the cut-outs this year. Nice job Isabel!

Cinnamon rolls...


This little kitchen gadget made all the baking a bit easier. Merry Christmas to me!

KitchenAid mixer

My Mom stopped by so Isabel could teach her how to decorate cookies. Baking cookies together is one of our many holiday traditions.


I hope you had a wonderful holiday too! Thank you for being my bloggy friend in 2010!

New Beds... New Room!

Big Transition is Upon Us!
It is definitely a bigger transition for Mom and Dad than for our "big girls"
They are now officially out of cribs and into toddler beds!
First nap for Lola in her new big girl bed!
First nap for Ellie in her big girl bed!
First full night sleep in their big girl beds.
They went to bed nicely, Lola just needed some extra snuggles to feel safe in her new bed, but after about 10 minutes they were asleep and we didn't hear a peep until about 7:40am this morning when I heard them both giggling, I walked in and saw them sitting together between their bed reading books....
Is this transition going to be this easy?
I won't count my chickens yet!

New BIG GIRL Room!
Thank You Grantie and Gruncle for a super cute canopy... the girls love it!

The train Santa brought them fit perfectly in their room.

The even have a kitchen/grocery store in their room (lucky girls)!

They now have easy access to day dream out the window!

(notice the absence of the rocking chair... it was way to early for 'mom' to get rid of that so the rocking chair has been moved to our office, that is where we will "Rock & Read"


To Mr Badkama at no 8 with whom we helped celebrate the completion of his legal training. His surprise fancy dress party (anything beginning with a P) went down very well.

Our Second Christmas!

My parents came down on 12/26 to celebrate Christmas with their four grand babies in San Diego. It was such a nice second Christmas!
Tony, Poppi, Lola, Stacie, Grandma, Ellie, Aiden, Mark, Missi, Baby Liam
The second coming of Santa Clause
(note: my whole family had sent their gifts for the grand kids with my parents to drive down)
Preparing a good dinner of ham, scallop potatoes, veggies, and garlic bread!
The girls helped grandma make the potatoes.

Ellie & Grandma
Present Time!
The kids are now really, really good at ripping open their gifts.
I will say that my girls were beyond spoiled this Christmas and will not need a new toy for the rest of their lives :) They sure are enjoying all their new things. It is nice to watch them play so mature with all their big girl toys.

Aftermath #3
Dinner time!
Missi and Tony

Poppi, Grandma, & Missi

The kids are eating at the new official "Kiddie Table" so cute!
The girls love their new baby cousin and are fascinated by watching Auntie Missi take care of him! I think Liam had a relaxing first Christmas getting spoiled with constant cuddles.

Tender Shortcakes -- Tuesdays with Dorie Rewind

Time for a Tuesdays with Dorie rewind -- Tender Shortcakes! This was our pick back in June thanks to Cathy at Tortefeasor, you can find the delicious recipe here at Cathy's site.

We love strawberry shortcakes at our house, and while they are nice in the summer with some simple macerated berries, they are also a great winter treat with some warm cooked strawberry sauce from frozen berries (or fresh if you can find decent ones this time of the year). Dorie's shortcake recipe was delicious, perfectly tender and a touch crumbly, just perfect for soaking up all of those yummy berry juices.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year! I have a blogging resolution to be a little more consistent since I've really missed keeping up with everyone these past couple of months. See you soon :)

It may not be green, but it certainly fits the bill....

Little T was very happy to have received a new bike from Santa this year. Despite the freezing conditions outside (and very icy pavements) we did manage to have a ride on Christmas day, with Daddy watching carefully for oncoming traffic !

Christmas lunch festivities !

The family enjoyed their lunch very much on the 25th. Slow roasted lamb for the carnivores and a delicious nut roast for Mrs K/C/KC.

Once upon a time in Bethlehem....

Little T and Little O both starred in the nativity play at church on Christmas Eve. Little O was a camel (not sure I remember so many of them in the Bible story !) - the costume having been cleverly converted from a reindeer outfit bought last minute.

Quick trip to Liverpool

We all traveled up to see the family in Liverpool prior to Christmas. The dynamic duo had a lot of fun as usual and were very well behaved. Great Gran and the grandparents enjoyed plenty of cuddles !

Meeting Rudolph

Little T and Little O were not taking any chances this year, so not only did they write to Santa, they also had a word with someone on the inside......

Dark Chocolate Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cookies
Ever since high school I've been looking for a chocolate cookie recipe that would taste like the ones I could get in the lunch line at Kennedy High School in La Palma, Calfornia.  Most days, the cookies were slightly undercooked in the middle, thick, and greasy.  I've tried I don't know how many recipes for chocolate cookies trying to replicate that taste.  Most were too thin, many weren't chocolately enough; none came close.  Even thought I'm posting this recipe, these cookies don't taste like them either.  They are delicious chocolate cookies nonetheless.  If I really want the recipe, perhaps I could just contact the school district to see if they still have that recipe.  Hmmm...just thought of that.
These cookies here are better underbaked, and disappointing when overbaked.  When you get them in that doneness zone, though, mmmmmm...they are one of my very favorite cookies.  And that's saying a lot coming from this cookie snob.  I go out of my way to make these cookies when I'm craving something really chocolately.  They almost taste like brownies.  Dark, chewy, fudgy, and best enjoyed with a glass of ice cold milk.

Dark Chocolate Cookies
    --Adapted from eupcurious.com

  • ¾ cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • ¼ cup Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ to 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ to ¾ cup chocolate chips (or better yet, chopped Dove dark chocolate)
Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. (If your cocoa is lumpy, as mine tends to be, put it through a sieve or sifter first.)

Dough balls lined up to freeze
Beat together butter, Crisco, and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.  Then beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.  Add flour mixture and mix just until combined.  Stir in nuts and chocolate.   Refrigerate for at least two hours.  (Note: I usually scoop them onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet and freeze at this point.  Then I transfer frozen dough balls to a zip-top bag so I can bake a few cookies at a time.)
Preheat oven to 375°F.

Drop level tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined (or ungreased) baking sheets and bake in batches in middle of oven until puffed and set, about 9-12 minutes.  Start checking after 9 minutes to make sure they don't burn.  Allow to sit on pan for 2-3 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Merry Merry Christmas!

I can chalk up 12.25.2010 to one of my very favorite and one of the happiest days of my life, I think it possibly could be the happiest day of my life as a parent. There was something so special about this Christmas. The girls were filled with smile after smile (well after they realized Santa wasn't in our living room... reference first video). Watching our girls experience the magic of Christmas simply validated every happy childhood memory I have. Tony expressed the same feelings. It was day filled with smiles, laughter, thanksgiving, family, and joy!

This first video is when we went into the room to tell the girls Santa came. They misunderstood our excitement and thought Santa was here and didn't want to come out of there room, so we had to carry them out, but when they saw what Santa brought them they were ecstatic!

Santa came and brought a train table and lots of other wrapped gifts!

Don't worry Santa made sure the train table was a bit girlie! "I like it!" says Ellie"Yay, Choo Choo rain" says Lola

Stocking Time!!

More presents...

"Sit & Spin"

They love them and were able to figure them out in just a few tries!

Aftermath #1

Our first traditional Christmas breakfast of Cinnamon rolls and mimosas (well OJ for the little ones) The girls helped me make them and Ellie was my taste tester.

One Happy Family!

Christmas Cuteness!

Off to grandma's house we go! psstt...Santa came there too!


They got new musical instruments too!

and very cute backpack...they kept putting their backpacks on and saying "bye, to TT's House" TT is their day care lady!

But of course they must put on some of their new makeup before they go!

Aftermath #2

Dinner Time!
Antipasto and Cannelloni

What a day, the girls were ready for some cuddles and we were ready for some relaxing!

This sums it up!
(the simple reminder of the true meaning of Christmas,
we got to see from our balcony all season long)
"Happy Birthday Jesus!" as Ellie would say

It is a time to be truly joyful!!!