Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I'll have a .......

......Kahl Christmas without you.....................



Due to the inclement weather this holiday we didn't make our usual "relative rounds." We just hung out out the Kahls for the entire weekend, and as much as I missed seeing my families, it was nice to just be still, and not have to run all over the place to fit everyone in. This coming weekend we will head to Iowa and see the rest of my family, but here are a few pictures from last weekend.

















































We opened lots and lots of gifts last weekend.
Aidan's favorite presents were a Leapster and a bug habitat. Thanks, Kitty Grandma, we brought home about 6 Japanese beetles, and I am really hoping they die before they start to reproduce.
Today we have the day off, so we have been playing with the microscope, making his gingerbread house and I planted my Amaryllis.
More Christmases to come!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

P.S.

I didn't realize I could share, but we can. Here is the information from Jennie if you are interested in seeing all our pictures.

Didn't she do a great job?!? I would recommend her to anyone, and talk about fast service!

Oh- And I also forgot to add........ a random bystander asked if we were local celebrities. I will let you imagine what we told them. Hee Hee.



"Hello!
I would like to invite you to view pictures at Jennie Gaskins Photography. They are located at
http://www.jenniegaskins.com/photocart.
When you go to the website click the Access Gallery link and enter in the access code below:
Access code: friends
After you do that you will be able to view these pictures. "

Overnight Service?





Talk about fast service!









We already received our proofs online. You can click here and see Jennie's blogpost for more of the pictures.









Having our pictures taken was so much fun! It was so good to see all of you guys too, even for that short time. I have some pictures too, but they aren't quite as fabulous.












See? That is why we have professionals.



Monday, December 28, 2009

What we are doing today


So..... remember this blog post?



We have been friends for years and we are always trying to take the perfect photo.



So today, we are {hopefully} finally going to do that! I am so excited!



We are meeting this lady at the Guthrie and then we are going to take some pictures with the Minneapolis skyline behind us. The Lord has directed us all in different directions in our life, and I imagine we all won't be here, in the Cities, forever. So we wanted a picture to symbolize where we all started, because only He knows where we will be next year!



Can't wait to see all you guys tonight!

And stay tuned for pics!












Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's true.


I made these bars.

They don't look like anything special. Aidan turned up his nose at them.


I am sure that if I gave you a plate of cookies you would pass them by in favor of something chocolaty or frosted.


But they. are. so. good.



Really. You should try them. In case you need some more persuading, Aidan did eventually eat one, and now he loves them too. Plus he thinks they are a healthy option. In face, yesterday he even tried to say he didn't need to eat a vegetable or fruit for lunch because he had enough fruit in his bar.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

To those of you whose address I do not have, or who, like my aunt, live in an area where mail delivery is somewhat unpredictable.


I love checking the mail this time of year because it is so much fun to open the cards and get new family pictures from our friends. All the cards I get end up on our fridge. Now, they always tell you in decorating magazines to de-clutter your fridge, but I love that when I working in the kitchen I am surrounded by the faces of people who have played a special part in our lives over the past decade.





(p.s. A friend designed our cards. If you want your own for next year you can find her here. And another friend took the pictures. You can find her here.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas To You


I debated sharing this with you.


I still don't know if I should.


Sharing with anyone probably decreases my chances of ever winning.


However, as my readership is pretty minimal I guess it is a chance I will take.


My mom is really the one who told me about this site, and she has debated sharing for the same reasons.


So sorry Mom. I never won anything anyway. But to the rest of you, be sure to tell me if you win so I can vicariously enjoy the moment with you.





So Merry Christmas! This will be my last post for awhile. We are getting ready to load up the car and head to Kahl's in southern MN for a few days and then to Iowa to see my side of the family! We will have to catch up when we return. Enjoy your holiday.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Christmas down.....


(talking to one of the Grandma's to tell her our arrival will be about a week late)



..... I don't know how many we still have! Our trip plans may all be changed thanks to the weather. We are hoping to get ahead of the storm tomorrow and head to James parent's after work but after that I have no idea what is going to happen. I only know my parents have decided not to drive this weekend so that means hopefully next week we can rendezvous in Iowa and see my Grandma's and my parents. (and becuase I am super stoked about Jane and my mom's gifts, and I can't really post about them until they both have seen them, which will be delayed now. (Although who am I kidding. I called and told my mom what I got them the day I ......... can't give out too much information here.................)




In the meantime we had our own little family Christmas. We ate at Chipotle, (Aidan's choice even though he doesn't really like it, but whatever) drove around Northeast and checked out some lights, then headed to Macy's downtown to see A Day in the Life of an Elf. So cute. They always do such a nice job.



This is Aidan getting ready to go. He is super stoked about wearing that sweatshirt, because I usually don't buy him screen printed clothes, especially not ones with superhero's. They bug me.











Can you even tell we are related????

(In case you don't know me that is pure sarcasm.)





Aidan also saw Santa Claus for the first time ever. We have never really talked about Santa before but for some reason this year it is a big deal to him. Santa told him he would bring him broccoli and lima beans and Aidan just shrugged, "Okay." Santa also told him to make lots of snow angels in the yard this week, and Aidan is already making plans about how many we should make. Could be worse.








We made our annual stop at Candyland. And then scheduled our annual dentist appointment.








We finished up by opening our little pile of gifts.





As you can see, the haul he makes at our family Christmas is nothing compared to the other gifts he will receive, but that is why we go first, right?










We also cheated, Jakob and Kate, and opened our gifts the day they came. and we have been playing with the pirate Lego's non-stop ever since. Well, playing is a liberal use of the word. Aidan takes the ship apart before bed every night and then asks James to put it back together daily. We keep explaining that unlike other toys you may leave Lego's out.





But he wants to keep picking them up. Who am I to argue with that?


I also received one of my most favorite gifts ever from Jakob and Kate. I will have to post pictures later. Jakob- I have been wearing one every day! Thanks for everything!


Now we are going to finish up the night with The Christmas Story movie and then sleep under the tree one last time. Nothing like starting a long weekend of traveling and not-sleeping-in-your-own-bed with a sore back.




So safe travel to you and yours. We are so bummed to miss out on my family this year, but the good news is we will have lots of snow for those snow angels. I hope Kitty Grandma has lots of hot chocolate!




Best Ever????


Really???


That was my reaction when my neighbor told me I made the best pumpkin pie he had ever had. (And mind you, he isn't exactly what you would call a spring chicken.) So if Mitch says it is the best, I guess I will take his word for it. And I will share the recipe with all of you so that you too can be lavished with compliments at your families Christmas. (You can find the original here.)


I also must put a little disclaimer out there. One of the reasons I chose this recipe was the crust. I am not very good at making eye-appealing pie crusts, so I like pies that call for graham cracker crusts. I also didn't follow the recipe and I used a pre-made crust.


My second confession is that I did not cook the pie in a hot water bath. I just cooked it at 325 until it seemed done. Pretty helpful information, right?



Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart



Crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 5 cookie sheets)
1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Cooking spray




Filling:
1 cup (8 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice




Remaining ingredients:
1/3 cup cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons powdered sugar





Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle butter over crumb mixture; stir with a fork. Firmly press into bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly browned; cool on a wire rack.
3. To prepare filling, beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin and eggs; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add bourbon and the next 5 ingredients (through ground allspice); beat 1 minute or until combined. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan. Place pan in a large roasting pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until center barely moves when side of pan is tapped. Cool completely on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Place cream and powdered sugar in a small bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Serve sweetened whipped cream with tart.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Almost done!

I am trying to finish up some last minute baking and gift making. Aidan and I decorated cookies.....



I made some Bailey's,





Bois Boudron Sauce


(these jars are still too hot for their labels!)



and Hot Cocoa.



The sauce is one we tasted at Spoonriver. All of us adults were politely eating our salmon, salads and beet ravioli when one of us thought to taste Aidan's burger and sauce. Whoever the original taster was almost whooped with delight it was so good, and then we all swooped in like vultures and pretty much licked his plate clean! Barb then found us the recipe online and I am hoping that it will "wow" the people I made it for as much as we were wowed by it.


I suppose I could share the recipe too............. maybe after Christmas.
Remind me.



Making Bailey's is a big treat. I have a secret ingredient which I can share with you too. (since I am holding out on the sauce recipe!) I start making coffee liqueur mid-summer so that it's ready when it is finally time to make the Bailey's and I use that in place of the instant coffee. I think it is worth the extra trouble!



And finally.... the hot cocoa. Last year I shared barb's recipe for a refrigerated version of hot cocoa which is still, by far, the best you can make. The only drawback is that it needs to be refrigerated which isn't always handy when you are trying to dole out gifts. I read a few recipes online and this is what I came up with.







You can see the ingredients are pictured above.





One large can Swiss Miss


One jar powdered vanilla creamer

One jar chocolate flavored malted milk powder

One half can of Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa.

Combine in food processor or blender until there are no lumps.

Then, stir in one bag of miniature chocolate chips. (don't blend them, leave them whole.)

This made about 8 small jars for me to give away. The cocoa was rich and creamy. I think it would probably by really good if you added instant coffee and made homemade cappuccino mix. Next year, right?

What about you? Are you almost done?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reminder for next year


Why is that that I always get new ideas after I am done with the majority of our Christmas preparations?


How cute is this?



Next year.

Half-completed.... but making progress!

I had this picture in yesterday's post.
It shows half completed peanut butter balls.
I found the recipe on Jill's blog last year and they are one of my new favorites. They taste like a white chocolate Reese's. Mmmmmm, super delicious and super dangerous for me to have around the house. I think James can resist them but I love peanut butter.


Here is another picture of the half finished project, and yep, you are right, the picture is showing you not one but two half finished projects. (Remember this post???) A friends' husband is a handyman and he fixed the trim for me and taped off the rest so I can finish painting. You can see in the mirror above he also applied molding around my open cupboard so now it looks like it was designed to be an open cupboard, not just one I took the doors off and painted.

Alright - I should get off the computer and back to my projects! I am also making some lavender sachets with some fragrant lavender that was mailed to me by this lovely lady. I had a grand plan that she would find some sachets in her mailbox before Christmas but the lines at the post office right now..... ugh.

Maybe for New Year's.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

This is how I clean my house.

Pardon the super long video and the super bad videographer who makes you sit with your head sideways for half the movie.




When we are home there is an almost constant stream of chatter coming out of Aidan's mouth. This video is just a taste!

I also tried to bait him at one point, but he didn't fall for it.


If nothing else - the Grandma's will probably enjoy it!

Field Trip

No, Aidan didn't get to go on one yet. We are still home sick. I brought him in Monday because I KNEW he had Strep throat and I wanted to start him on antibiotics for it right away so he wouldn't miss so much school, but the test came back negative. So three days later as he continues to feel worse I brought him in again and guess what he has? Strep throat and a double ear infection. For him it has been a bad week to be sick. He missed the field trip, the TaeKwonDo test out, his last (and favorite) soccer class and I had to cancel a Christmas party I was having for co-workers.







I, on the other hand, was able to get alot done. Baking, Christmas cards and some deep cleaning, along with all the movie watching and game playing.









But the real reason I started writing this post was to tell you about the field trip Aidan and James took last Saturday. They went to an open house at a place called Leonardo's basement - a place where kids can create out of junk. Sooo......... we have lots of little junk creations around the house right now. I was really encouraging thme to make Christmas gifts for the Grandma's but we get to keep all the stuff they made instead.


The picture above is the ship he made. As with most amazing works of art I had a hard time capturing its essence on film.



The picture below has some cookie cutters they made. Once we are no longer contagious we will give them a try and see how they work!





They also made a little robot of a floatie and some wine corks. I was amazing at their creativity!
So even though he missed out on his field trip this week, he had lots of fun with James last weekend.


Good job you guys!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sorry James

He found the stash of chips and salsa that you had in your office.





Who could resist? It is one of the first things he has eaten in days.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Kahl Bottling Company


Thus far we have made vanilla extract and cherry liqueur, and I have plans to make a few more things, but I haven't had the time yet. (Although I probably could have finished up today instead of wasting my day trying to change the pictures on my blog header. Aidan is home sick and I thought I would make some quick updates, and he had time to watch his entire movie and now has moved on to movie #2.




)
I ordered my labels here this time, and I love how they turned out, although I wish the cordial labels were bigger. I didn't realize I had ordered such huge bottles this year, they are almost double the size of the ones we have used in years past. Oh well. I don't even know if people like the cordial we make, we just keep making it because it is easy and we have so many cherries. Maybe we should take a poll this year at Christmas!






Well- I suppose even if people don't care to drink it we will still make it just because it looks so pretty in the bottles.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear Aidan,


This is the first letter I have written you on my blog, but today is a special occasion.



You are home sick with me today, and that means you are missing your "second ever" field trip. Today you were supposed to go to the Noodle Factory and I was so excited because this time I got to go with you! You also missed your first field trip to the apple orchard because you were sick. And both times you handled it like such a little man.



Oh, there were a few tears, but not the whiny kind. They were sad tears, but you knew you couldn't go because you didn't want to make your friends sick. I feel so badly for you sweetie, but I am so proud of you too, and I hope this is just a glimpse of the character we will see in you when you are not my little boy, but a grown man.



I am glad we were able to spend two days at home snuggled on the couch with books and movies, I can think of no better way to spend my time.



I hope this is the last time- I hope you are able to go on your next field trip, but even if you do there are lots of other disappointments ahead of you, and I pray that you handle them the same way you handled your disappointment today.

Love you.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Something New...........

So this past week I had the chance to have a new experience - I met someone I only know via blog.




It could have been weird, but it wasn't. I felt like I had known her a long time. We enjoyed lunch at the Town Talk Diner and then I invited myself to tag along with her while she did some Christmas shopping. I know, my manners are pretty bad these days. I was late to our lunch as well so probably not a good first impression. Oh - and I had meant to go to the gym before our lunch but instead I slept in until our lunch, so I hadn't showered or anything nice like that either. Like I said, a brilliant first impression. In other words, this post might not ever have a sequel!




But if it does, it would be swell. Thanks for coming out to meet me Bethany! I had a delightful time with you. And to all the readers, she is just as fresh and real in real life as she is on her blog.




And in case she blogs about our day I am glad my post is hitting the world wide web first. Bethany has such a way with words, that if she blogs about our meeting it will blow my post out of the water!


(P.s I did not take the photo. I found it here on on Flickr.)

Thanks alot Christa!




So Friday night I was kicked out of the house so James could have some guys over for poker. Jen, Christa and I met for dinner, and then we did some Christmas shopping. Afterwards, Christa and I decided to catch a movie so we quickly stopped home so I could put Aidan to bed. (Besides, he had had enough of us girls for one night!!!!)




While we were killing some time Christa was checking out Aidan's room and all the photos he has on the wall. She noticed this photo and said, "Wow Napht - you were so young!" I thought she was being silly because I still look that young, right?





Well..... we got the rest of our Christmas photos today. And yeah. Not so much. I think next year I will have to find a photographer who can airbrush out the wrinkles.

For the last few weeks I have been planning to do a blogpost about the only wrinkle cream I have found that doesn't make me break out, but it is obviously not the time.

(And before you tell me I am exaggerating, let me tell you that I am not showing anyone the wrinkle photos. The photo above is one of our better ones. Trust me.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thank you.........




............ Anthropologie for coming up with such a cute idea for gift wrapping this year.







Who would have thought that little circles of felt on twine could create such gift-giving loveliness?






Thanks too for finally clearancing out the pillow I had been eyeballing for months.
Merry Christmas to me I guess!