From Our Family To Yours.......

December 22, 2009

Card front blog WM
{Front of our card}

{Back of our card}

Warmest Wishes of Peace and Joy this holiday season.

Be back in a couple of days.....Hope Santa is good to you all!!

My Little Helper

December 20, 2009

Serious 2 WM

Thanks to Mother Nature, I am in great shape for the holidays. This week panic had set in when I realized how much I had left to do, but luckily, Saturday's snowstorm kept us home where I could get so much accomplished.

I got all of my shopping done on Friday night. I still need to grab a few things for stocking stuffers, buy I can handle thatover the next few days:) Saturday we were suppose to go into Philly for my work Christmas party. Unfortunately they had the party, but we didn't want to risk getting stuck or worse......getting into an accident, so we stayed put and I called my boss to tell him we were not going to make it.

After Pat and I made the decision not to go to the party, I made a quick trip to the grocery store to stock up on all my baking items I needed.

Let the fun begin WM

When I got back home, there was a little helper patiently waiting for me and raring to go.

Giggles WM

Starting to put a few ingredients in the mixer.....SO EXCITING!!!!

I need that WM

How fast does this thing go? Can I crank it up?

It got me WM

Look at it go!! Mommy, you better take over, the ingredients are flying out of the bowl.

She hung up her apron when the flour started flying, but was quick to come back into the kitchen when the cookies were coming out of the oven.

Italian Cookies 1 WM

In total, we made 12 dozen Italian Cookies. This is my all time favorite cookie recipe and I make them every year for Christmas. I posted the recipe last year so click HERE to view it. They are really called Ricotta cookies, but whenever I say that people get a funny look on their face. I promise, they taste like a butter cookie. I usually put a vanilla or citrus glaze on top and of course some sprinkles for decoration:) If you are looking for a new cookie to try you might want to give these a whirl. They are super easy and taste delish!!

After we did finished the Italian Cookies, we made 6 dozen Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and 3 dozen Peanut Butter Heath Bar Cookies. The Peanut Butter Heath Bars are to die for....OH MY WORD, I hope I don't eat them all before Christmas:) I accidentally threw away the was on the back of the bag of heath bar pieces. When you go to your grocery store, you will find them in the baking aisle next to the chocolate chips....SORRY:( I tried to google it and couldn't find the exact recipe.

We definitely gave the Viking a workout yesterday.....I think we gave Sarah one too!! She slept in this morning and did not get out of bed until almost 11am. Since she was sleeping so soundly, I was able to lock myself in the spare bedroom and get EVERY SINGLE GIFT WRAPPED, labeled, and put away before she got out of bed!! My list is shrinking and it feels GREAT!!!

The first of our family is due to arrive Wednesday night and all I have left to do is grocery shop for our christmas meals and some light cleaning around the house.

We are in the homestretch my friends....only 4 more days:)

The Little Things

December 17, 2009

Ashton The Face Large Format Sharp WM
Happy Holidays my friends!!!

Does anyone else feel like they are spinning out of control right now?? I cannot believe we are a week away from Chrismtas.......

I still have so much to do.... I am not done shopping yet, have not even begun to wrap, need to make out my menu for Chrismtas Day and go to the grocery store to stock up on all the necessary food and beverage items. I was also hoping to crank out 10-12 dozen italian cookies.

I guess it wouldn't be that bad if I didn't have to work during the week, but I do......and I am working right up until Christmas, so I am going to be pulling some late nights for sure!

Even though I am feeling a tad overwhelmed, I am still trying to enjoy the season and all the little things that come with it.

Last night we went to Nick's 6th grade Christmas play, it was really cute and was a great reminder as to what the holidays are really about. Sorry, no pictures....... I have been slacking with the camera lately and Nick said he would be mortified if I came up to the front to take a picture or two......or ten:)

Speaking of pictures...... one of the highlights each day has been the walk to the mailbox!!! It is funny how such a small gesture can bring so much joy.....and I know I am not alone, because I have talked to many friends and read on other blogs that you all feel the same way!!

It is so much fun opening those envelopes filled with holiday cheer. Warm holiday wishes from friends near and far....... So many adorable faces smiling up at you!! It definitely brightens my day:)

I look forward to Christmas Cards every year, but this year has been extra special..... I actually received a few cards from some of the families I photographed!!! It was and is, so cool to see how they take the photos and design the layout for the holiday cards.

Typically, I don't share the photos I take for other people, but I did get permission to share a few from one of the sessions this holiday season:)

For starters, let me introduce the little guy up there at the top of this post. That is my nephew Ashton. Is he not one of the cutest little boys you have ever seen?? I did a last minute, quicky session for my sister and I loved his little expression......had to post it!!

The week after Thanksgiving I did a session for a fellow blogger and sweet friend!! Some of you are sure to recognize this precious pair..........

The girls with the Nutcracker WM

emily hand on hip c WM

Hannah and the nutcracker Cosmo WM

Emily sitting SC WM

Hannah Angle WM

Emily and Hannah were such a joy to photograph.......I enjoyed every second of my time with their entire family and feel extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to photograph these lovely ladies. If any of you follow their blog, you know that Heather is one of the most kind and compassionate people you could ever meet. I am so happy to call her friend and look forward to seeing her again after the holidays:)

I photographed a few more families this holiday season, but not all the families were comfortable with their pictures being posted on the blog, so unfortunately, I won't get to share those.

At this point, we have collected a nice stack of beautiful Christmas Cards as I am sure many of you have too. I need to figure out how to display them in my house. They are too pretty to keep hidden away in a card basket or sleigh. I have a couple of stands or card holders, but they don't hold enough cards.

How do you display your Christmas Cards in your home??? I would love to hear your ideas:)

Hope that everyone has a great weekend. If I am lucky, I will get in at least one more post before Christmas.

Spreading Some Holiday Cheer!

December 9, 2009

Ornament Seasons Greetings WM
I have to admit that it has been one of those years that I just can't seem to get into the spirit of the season. Can't put my finger on it, maybe it is just that life has been spinning out of control..... I have not had time or the energy to stop and really enjoy it all and quite honestly feel extremely overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done in such a short period of time.

We are typically completely decorated by Thansgiving, but that did not happen this year. So finally, last weekend I cleared our calendar and said that we were not doing anything or going anywhere until the house was decorated.

Friday night when I walked through the door after a long day at work, I saw three laundry baskets filled with neatly folded, clean clothes sitting ontop of our washer and dryer. My sweet hubby knew that I was going to be up to my eyeballs in holiday decor all weekend, so he helped out and did every last piece of dirty laundry in the house. Isn't he the best? Gotta love a man who pitches in with the housework:)

So Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early and headed down to the basement to dig through all the Christmas boxes.......

Before long, I was in the groove.....and next thing I knew it was midafternoon and I had finished just about everything except the tree.

We do a fake, prelit tree...... I LOVE a real tree, there is nothing better than the smell of fresh greens in the house, but I am allergic to the mold on them. Every year, without fail, I got sick around the holidays. The doctor asked if we had real trees in the house and when we said yes, he suggested we consider getting a fake tree. Sure enough.......he was right!! The fake trees are not quite the same, but they have so many really nice options out there. We bought a pretty one for our first Christmas in this house two years ago.....and so far, so good!! Although the lights gave us some trouble this year and Pat had to play with them for a little bit until we got them all to light up!!

I didn't go wild with camera, but I did snap a few pics of some pretty things.......

The Wreath WM
The wreath on the front door.... I love holly berries:) I also have plain holly berry wreaths that are hung inside on all the glass paned doors within the house.

Deck the halls WM
Nestled in the tree....some ornaments and ribbon......with white lights!!

Our mantel..... I love our "WISH" letters......and my poor stockings that I purchased on sale from PB just before Chrismtas two years ago.....still have not had them monogrammed......I am the worst with that kind of thing!! But in my defense, we do have stockings that have our names on them. Those get put out on Christmas Eve for Santa to fill:)

Wine Tis The Season WM
After a full days work, I was down to the last few ornaments and I poured myself a glass of chardonnay..... For some reason, in the end, I am always the only one left decorating the tree. I think after a few ornaments, the novelty wears off for everyone else.

I was actually chatting on the phone with my friend Marla as I took this shot!! We have a thing about taking pictures of our "adult beverages" and sending them to each other. Since we have more than few states between us, it is kind of our way of enjoying a cocktail together since we can't do it in person!!! So Marla....this one is for you girl:) If you look closely at my wine glass, you can see that it reflected the Chrismtas tree upside down.

As I promised, Here is a staple recipe in our house during the holidays. I get two turkeys every year from my company. They give every employee a turkey at thanksgiving and another one for Christmas, so whether we host the holiday or not, we always cook at least one of them during the holiday season. With a family of four, there are usually LOTS of leftovers. The next day, I usually make a big pot of Turkey Barbecue.

Here is what you will need:

Turkey Meat
Chicken Stock
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Olive Oil

I usually try to shred and/or dice the turkey meat into bite sized pieces.....and I combine whte and dark meat. Basically whatever I have left. After it is all shredded, put it aside in a bowl.

Then chop one large onion and a couple stalks of celery and put aside.

In a large pot, melt about 2 TBSP of butter and 1 TBSP of Olive Oil. Once the butter melts, add the celery and onion. Season with Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until translucent. Then add all the turkey meat. Season with allspice, more salt and pepper and then add some chicken stock. Stir it all together and then add about 1/4 cup of ketchup and a TBSP of two of Mustard. Again, stirr thoroughly and simmer. The sauce is usually on the thin side because of the chicken stock, so I do one of two things. I either add a ladle full of gravy if I have it leftover from the meal or if there is no gravy, I take a TBSP of cornstarch and mix it in a small bowl with some cold water and then add it to the turkey mixture. After it simmers about 20 minutes, you will want to taste it to see if it needs to be reseasoned.

This is one of those recipes that I do not measure...... I eyeball everything, so use your judgement.

My favorite way to serve this is on a new england style roll topped with homemade coleslaw and cramberry sauce!! I know it might sound wierd, but it is SOOOOO GOOD!!! I made it with our Thanksgiving leftovers and I am sure I will be making it again during the Christmas holiday!! Maybe this time I can get a photo of the food before it is devoured by my family:) If anyone wants the coleslaw or cranberry sauce recipe, let me know!!!

Okay.....gotta run:) Time to go to work.......Have a great day

A Winter Wonderland

December 6, 2009

Snow Day Sarah WM
Late yesterday afternoon, it started to snow, but we were up to our eyeballs in Chrimtmas decorations. The plan was to decorate the entire house on Saturday and then on Sunday, Sarah and I were going to bake Christmas cookies together. Nick is at his Dad's this weekend, so it was time for a little girl bonding in the kitchen.

Well, our plans kind of changed when we woke up this morning and looked out the window to see a beautiful white winter wonderland.

I asked Sarah what she wanted to do. Bake cookies or go play in the snow?? Dumb quesiton I know.....

Walking the dog WM
Shortly after lunch we headed out across to the empty lot where there are a few hills and lots of pretty snow covered trees......and oh yeah, my FAVORITE RED BARN!!!

Smiling ear to ear as she is taking a cruise on a sentimental old sled........I went for many rides on this very sled with my sister when we were little girls:)

Follow the leader WM
Pat and Rudy{our dog}joined us for this little outing:) Rudy loves the snow just as much as Sarah does......maybe even a little more, he doesn't get cold!!

Sarah 2 WM

Pulling the sled WM
Sitting in the sled was fun, but someone had to try her hand at pulling the sled......

Down hill WM
Pulling didn't last too long. I think she prefers being the passenger instead:)

Don't leave me out here 2 wm
"Hey, I am cold, tired, and my nose is running. Can someone please carry me back to our house?"

Sorry for all the pics....First snow fall always makes me go a little wild with the camera. As if I am not already camera crazy......

We had a great time out there. Cookies can be made anyday, but snow only comes once in a while, so we had to take advantage.

I made some serious progress on the house and everything for the most part is decorated. I only have one or two things to put out yet. I snapped a few pictures during the process and I will be posting those with the Turkey Barbecue Recipe I promised last week. I always like to post a picture of the food with the recipe and by the time I went to get my camera and take a photo, the barbecue was gone:( is that good!!!

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Tomorrow starts a new week:)

BTW, still working on the Chrismtas Card dilemma. I might have to face the fact that my kids faces are going to look a tad jaundice........UGH!!!

I am Happy to Report.......

December 3, 2009

Sarah and Santa
Santa is no longer known as "The Scary Man" in our house:)

Our trip to the "north pole" was much different than last year's visit. Click HERE for a walk down memory lane.

For starters, we got there and Santa was on lunch at 2pm in the afternoon. Just my luck:) But no worries, there was plenty for Sarah to checkout until he returned. She was so excited and her eyes were as big as half dollars as she looked around at all the lights and decorations. Of course, I was not far behind with camera in hand snapping away, when all of a sudden I feel a tap on my shoulder.....

I turn around and see mall security standing there. This woman looks at me and says "you are not allowed to take pictures here." I said, "Oh, don't worry, we are waiting for Santa to come back from lunch and I will be buying a package from the portrait studio. I just wanted a few photos of my daughter waiting for Santa to arrive." She said, "no, you don't understand what I am saying. You cannot take photos anywhere in this mall. This is private property and every picture you just took, must be deleted."

She actually stood there and made me delete each and every photo. I was so stinkin mad..... I have never heard such a thing!

Last year, they told me I could take pictures around Santa's workshop, but not inside or while Sarah was sitting in his lap. I guess I can understand that, but no pictures at all......that is just unbelievable. What parent doesn't bring their own camera when the kids are going to see Santa or the Easter Bunny?? And while we are at many of us blogger Mama's carry a camera with us almost everywhere we go???

When Santa finally came back from his lunch break, we were first in line. Santa's helpers announced that Santa was on his way..... we looked down the mall and there he was.....headed to the "North Pole". Sarah squealed with delight as she saw him coming. He sat down in his big comfy chair and waived Sarah over. She did not miss a beat and ran over without a glance over her shoulder...... I was so happy that she was not afraid of him like last year, but at the same time I was burning on the inside knowing that I was not getting any of this with my camera.

Once she got into his lap, she stared at him without blinking for what seemed like minutes. If you could have seen her sitting there gazing up at was so precious. The whole time I just wanted to whip out my camera......I was even tempted to use my iphone to catch a moment or two, but I was too chicken that the mall cop was going to come after me again.

This Santa was so gentle and kind.....maybe it was best we got there when he was fresh and just coming back from a break, because he was such a sweetheart:) Sarah was loving every minute of her visit and would have stayed there all day if he let her. I caught some of the conversation between them and I couldn't help but giggle as I listened.

Sarah told Santa that she was going to leave him her Nu Nu{aka, the pacifier}with his plate of cookies on Christmas Eve. She then told him that she is now a big girl and big girls don't use Nu Nu's. He should give her Nu Nu to a little baby who needs one and in return he should leave her something special under the tree. Santa seemed to love this.....and then asked her what she would like him to leave for her. She told him she wanted a bunny.......

I have no idea where that came from, but that is what she wants....a bunny!! During our drive back home, she told me that she wanted a pretend bunny, not the real kind...... THANK GOODNESS!!! I can barely handle one 20 lb, hypoallergenic nonshedding dog......there is NO WAY I am going to have a bunny hopping through this house!!

So, if the camera episode wasn't enough to burn me up for one day..... I walked in the door to see that my Christmas Card order arrived. I opened the box and was extremely disappointed with what I saw..... I picked a certain paper finish that I thought would give the card a nice and elegant look....

Big mistake, it does look nice, but I think the paper changed the seemed to warm up the picture a bit too much and I think the kids faces look a little yellowish......

I have a phone call into the printhouse. I am praying they can help me out. It will pain me to send these out the way they look now....... I never return or complain about anything, and can usually let the small things slide, but this I can't.

A frustrating day to say the least, but in the end....I did get to see that sweet, smiling face nose to nose with Santa. She has yet to stop talking about the big guy in red:)