Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Getting into the Spirit

Ooops!  Sorry to all you early morning readers. I loaded the pictures and then was planning to go back and write the text.  Evidently, I hit publish instead of save. Hopefully, some of you will come back and read.

We are off to a great start getting into the Christmas spirit. I will admit it is a bit bittersweet. So much fun to have a little one to share all the wonder with, but all the while knowing that the new year will most likely be seeing her go home.  I am super happy for them, but sad for us.  In the meantime, we are packing in all the memories and Christmas spirit we can.
The Friday after Thanksgiving we went to the Wild Lights at the St. Louis Zoo with my niece's family. We had a great time and the lights were gorgeous. I am ready for someone to come decorate my yard :)

I loved this guy behind the bench. We didn't get a chance to take our picture with him - he was popular.
This fun orangutan light display was fun. They turned off and on to show the apes moving across the vine. Incidentally, the St. Louis Zoo just had almost $200,000 worth of damage to their orangutan display. A disgruntled 12 year old orangutan was throwing rocks at the windows. You can read more here

Last Friday we visited a local church's live nativity display.They did a great job putting it together.

The cutest shepherd. Ever.
Afterwards we drove around and looked at Christmas lights. I enjoy the inflatables too.
We got an advent calendar for our small fry. I think the chocolate has been the highlight of every day :)
December 6 is St. Nicholas Day. My heritage is Dutch and we have celebrated St. Nicholas Day since I was a child. Children (and adults who act like children) put out their shoes filled with carrots and hay for St. Nicholas' horse. We actually skip the hay and carrots though. Then St. Nicholas leaves little gifts and candy. We went a bit overboard this year for our small fry (and maybe from the looks of the shoes, for all of us). Sadly, when my husband went to put his new Stormtrooper ornament on the tree he dropped it. Hopefully, I can figure out where St. Nicholas shops.
We got a little Christmas tree to put up in small fry's bedroom. She loves it. Under the Dora book you can see the traditional gold (chocolate) coins - she definitely loves her "tock-it".

Clifford and T-Bone are enjoying their new "night light" too. Thankfully she didn't wake up last night when I turned it off.
And now for the ornament parade....When we were kids my mom would buy us each an ornament. This particular year each of got a rocking horse with a different character on it.
Some years she would get a big set and we could pick out a few.

This year we all got wooden bears - each one holding a different Christmas item.
And a year for instruments.
I have lost track over the years when we got each ornament, but the memories are still there each year when we decorate the tree.

I will be sharing more of what adorns our tree this year.  We only put up one.  When I packed the ornaments last year we knew we were planning to do foster care. I put all the non-breakable (at least less breakable) ornaments in one (or two) boxes to be used if we had little ones in the house.  I miss some of my fragile ones this year, but having our small fry more than makes up for it.

I hope your holiday season is off to a festive start,

Friday, December 2, 2016

Wrapping Up November

The second half of November got away from me!  This will be a quick wrap up and then on to December.

Which of these two items do you think I purchased at our local Aldi? 

I do like spinach, but there was just something about the idea of spinach bites that just didn't' work for me. Maybe it was the picture - they don't look very appetizing.  So, I purchased the pea snacks. Yes, I agree, they don't look super appetizing either. However, somewhere in there is a cousin to my beloved chips.  My sidekick and I actually really liked them :)  My husband doesn't know if he likes them because he couldn't make himself try them. I am not touting them as a "healthy" food.  Probably better than potato chips...see label below and judge for yourself.
Of course, there was more marathon training and then lead to more fall scenery for me.

One day while stalking my runner, I noticed this...I wonder what goes on in here!!
Zommie likes snuggling with my tired runner.
I discovered a new breakfast and I am currently obsessed. Sliced Brussels sprouts, ground turkey and leftover sweet potato sauteed together with some spices then topped with an over easy egg.  I think I ate it three times Thanksgiving week.
These trees are right across the street from my office. I look forward to seeing them every fall.
I noticed this picture at the store the other day. I have never thought about carrots as being ripe. "I think the carrots are ripe - time to pick them" or "would you pick up some carrots - be sure they are nice and ripe." Carrots are just carrots in my world.
Of course, Thanksgiving means cooking new things.  Actually, this first one I have made before. I loved it and needed a excuse to make it again. Butternut Squash Lasagna.  I doubled this recipe.

First the squash is roasted until soft.
Scrape the cooked squash from the skins (save a little bit for later - see below).
Squash is pureed with milk, herbs and cheese. The lasagna is layered with squash, noodles and cheesy bechamel sauce.
Ready to enjoy!! Truth is only a couple of pieces got eaten at Thanksgiving, but I don't care because I had plenty to freeze in portions for winter lunches :)
We made Turkey Brownies. They were super easy (hardest part was finding the candy corn 3 weeks after Halloween). I think I am going to start putting candy eyeballs on everything!
These are simple Pillsbury Crescent rolls. Instead of rolling the dough into the traditional shape, you make the rolls using leaf-shaped cookie cutters. Then brush with butter and sprinkle with cheese to give your leaves some fall color.
Finally the pièce de résistance - Blueberry White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Amaretto Cream Sauce. One of my Lovely Ladies in Lousiana mentioned it was served at her work Thanksgiving party. I was instantly intrigued and put it on the menu. The bread is soaked with cream and egg mixture then white chocolate, fresh and dried blueberries are folded in
Bummer I just realized I forgot to load the finished bread pudding - I will add it later if you are interested. This is right before it went in the oven.
I didn't use the Amaretto for my cream sauce. I substituted almond and vanilla extract. At the risk of bragging, the bread pudding with the hit of Thanksgiving. My husband's grandma (who doesn't like blueberries) loved it and asked to take home some of the leftovers. My mom was said it is the best bread pudding she has had since her mom's. 
Poor buddy didn't enjoy Thanksgiving as much as the rest of us :(  He is pretty rambunctious and my in-laws didn't want to take any chances of him knocking down grandma. So he had to stay in the barn...whomp, whomp.
Maybe the highlight of the day was a little backyard football game. My husband was slightly horrified that instead of playing defense I was busy taking pictures of the action.  Our little sidekick had a great time. I wish I could post some of the other pictures, but she is in the middle of most of them.  Trust me she is ridiculously (or as she says dadicliously) adorable. Our team got slaughtered (not my fault, since I was taking pictures, right?)  In fact, I threw our team's only touchdown pass and got a safety. Can you win MVP if you are on the losing team??
Remember the extra squash I made its way into a veggie quesadilla with corn and spinach.
It was super tasty and will be happening again in my world :)
That pretty much wraps up November. We put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving so prepare yourselves for the ornament parade...

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Little Things

My eyes have defintiely been on the sky the past few days. I am not sure if there is a particular phenomenon causing this, but the clouds have been spectacular. (I promise I am the passenger in these shots.)

I tried to catch the supermoon rise. We drove out to what I hope would be a great location for visibility, but ended up just seeing more clouds. At least I had a chance to enjoy it higher in the sky the night before.
We finally made a trip to the zoo. Summer is just too hot. We had a day off work last week so we woke up and said let's go. My favorite were the orangutans. We almost missed them because they were inside. The baby is almost 2 years old and so fun. 
You know what is going to happen next...
Just as you suspected. At one point the two adults in the enclosure went up to a ledge on the high rocks and put a sheet over themselves. I don't blame them for needing a break :)
It is good to be the lazy lion. We almost missed him because we were looking from the opposite direction of this picture. The lioness is actually napping on the other side of the rocks.

I can't pass up a quick visit to the elephants.
I love the baby elephants and can't wait until they go on display. However, the joke is if you want to see baby elephants don't go with Anna. They always seem to be off display when I visit. This little one is about 3 1/2 years old now - not exactly a baby but I will take it :)
The other day at the lodge I saw this ornament. I can't decide if I truly regret not getting it. I am sure they are supposed to be wings, but I can only see a wig.
If this weren't $25 and would look as cute on me as it does the hanger. I would have totally bought it and signed up for a Jingle Bell run :) 
I asked my little sidekick to draw a picture of me. Well, I am cute..even if I have enormous ears and an appendage problem.
Zommie loves family time on the bed.
My sister-in-law sent these Chinese steamed buns back with my mom who was visiting my brother's family in California. I could eat them every day.
The fillings vary. This one was pork and veggies. I have actually made them a time or two, but the bun is never as light and fluffy as these.
There are a few bright spots of color left. I seriously want to move this tree to my yard. I love the size and shape. The brilliant color is a total bonus.
Just outside my office door.
I am probably pretty late to the party on this one, but I have finally experienced the LuLaRoe craze. I had no clue about LuLaRoe when I was invited to an online pop-up boutique recently. The consultant posted the items she had available. Apparently, the availability is based on the consultants current inventory - not a catalog where you pick out and item and order it in your size. She offered items in a variety sizes and styles.

It is super hard for me to buy clothes without trying them on so that in itself was a challenge. I had decided I was going to try a pair of the leggings because that was the one item I had heard of prior to the invite. There were probably 10 or so different patterns in my size. Many of the patterns were not my taste, but I thought this pair would be fun. Leggings come into two sizes - my size was tall and curvy (because of the curves not the height). When I first put them on, I will just say it, I felt naked - not in a bad way. Obviously, they are VERY form fitting and I didn't love the look around my stomach (hence the long shirt). I was slightly concerned the flowers would stretch out weird, but they didn't.My husband complimented them several times, so that is good :)
One minus - the second time I wore them they started twisting a bit so the seam was coming down the front of my leg (below the knee) instead of the side. I am not sure what is up with that. I am eager to see how they last. For me $25 seemed a little pricey for a pair of untried leggings. Now that I have tried them and do like them, the price will keep me from becoming totally obsessed. I would ask for them as a gift, but given each sale is different I couldn't request a particular pattern. I will keep my eyes out for another sale to see what other patterns are out there.

I apologize for the randomness of this post. I emotions are a bit all over the place this time of year and I am just trying to keep busy and appreciate the little things.