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...