Valentine's Day = lots of cooking for me...check out these cute heart lollipops I made for the boys to give out:
I don't recall where I saw the idea, but it's basically two mini candy canes heated in a 350F oven till they *just* soften. Poke the lollipop stick into the base and use your fingers to very gently mold the stick in place. Let cool briefly, then fill with edible candy melts. Easy peasy!
We used bookmarks from Living Locurto as tags, though I changed the pink bookmarks to blue per Monkey Boy's request (because boys can't give out pink bookmarks, dontcha know!).
For our Valentine's Day Dinner we decided to eat in. It's just too much trouble to go out and fight the crowds. So I made filet mignon + seared sea scallops served with rice and mushrooms/zukes tossed with butter and garlic. Super yum!
What did we have for dessert? Well check out my new kitchen gadget: a mini donut maker!
This thing makes THE.CUTEST.DONUTS.EVAH. I used a recipe I found online and whipped up 20 donuts in about 20 minutes. A simple sugar glaze was the vehicle for lots of sprinkles...
Aren't they the most twee things?!? I'm dying to try some chocolate ones...or maybe plain with chocolate ganache....or chocolate with powdered sugar...Oh dear, I might have to buy some elastic waist pants!
Most of the kids went home around 8:30pm, but a few were invited to stay over night. The sleepover went pretty well- we managed to get the kids all asleep by 11:30pm (tho the Dearest did have to sit with them in the loft and use his "daddy voice" once or twice to quiet them down). And they even slept all the way through to 7am this morning without a peep!
Monkey Boy had specifically asked for a Perry-shaped cake and after finding this tutorial at Dabbled and decided to give it a try. My multi-talented friend Lanya came over to help, since I had never worked with fondant on a cake before. She showed me how to knead in the color (hmmm...actually I think she did all of that herself), and how thin to roll out the fondant. Here's our process and the finished result:
A slightly better photo of the finished cake (click for a bigger photo and notes): The kids loved it, especially Monkey Boy! He was super excited to "eat Perry"....working with the fondant wasn't as scary as I thought. Lanya even suggested a marshmallow based fondant that I actually liked the taste of (I'm not usually a fan of the regular fondant). So I might be making more cakes with fondant in the future.
All in all, a succesful party! And look at the 'day after':
The last week of the year is always a rush- with Monkey Boy's birthday falling a few days after Christmas, and readying ourselves for the New Year's celebration, I often feel like I"m running behind as soon as I get out of bed in the morning.
We usually don't have a big party for MB's birthday till later in January, mostly because school is out of session for two weeks before the holidays, and really....not many people want to attend ANOTHER party after Christmas and before NYE. When I asked Monkey Boy where he wanted to go for a birthday lunch, he said Sonic! He really wanted to have the guys rollerskate the fries and food to our car, and he was looking forward to a shake. Unfortuately, it was raining when we woke up that morning so we went to our favorite sushi spot instead.
MB shows off one of his favorite sushi rolls- the California roll
Little Man loves tuna handrolls.
When we got home after lunch, MB finally got to open his birthday gift. He was super excited to finally get the Lego Firestation- can you tell????
The next big day was New Year's Eve....our wonderful friends Kirk and Penny invited us over for a special NYE dinner, all cooked by Martin (below in the chef's coat). Check out the spread!
OMGosh it was all so delicious...we started out with a ton of appetizers including beef tartar, which I've always wanted to try but been too cowardly to actually order in a restaurant. But when Martin said he had ground the meat himself, I figured "what the heck"....and it was really really good! In fact I ended up eating three pieces and only stopped because I knew we were in for a lot of amazing food: Alaskan king crab legs with garlic butter, luscious lambchops, beautifully cooked filet, and all the accompanying sauces and side dishes. Everything was so scrumptious- good thing we paced ourselves by starting apps at 7pm and not sitting for the main course till 10pm!
Martin delegated some of the work to us onlookers, but he did the majority of the prep and cooking. It's eye-opening to watch someone who has had real culinary training; I love watching Top Chef and cooking shows, but to see the prep work in person was a whole other matter.
And what were the kiddos doing while we adults ate and drank (and drank)? They were all playing Wii and Nintendo DS upstairs. Amazingly, every single one of them made it till midnight, though there were a lot of big, glazed eyes. And about 10 minutes later, Monkey Boy crawled into the Dearest's lap and fell asleep instantly. Little Man made it till we got into the car for the ride home, but within a few minutes of driving I looked back and he was passed out.
All in all, a busy and fun week...Now to see what 2011 has in store for us!
Yesterday we went up to the local mountains for the day with the intent to let the kids do some sledding and snow play. We made great time- then we hit the single lane road to Mountain High ski resort and spent an hour creeping along at 3mph. Luckily it looked like everyone was trying to ski because once we went past Mtn. High, there was literally no one on the road and we found an awesome spot to sled and have a picnic. I shot tons of video of the kids (and growups) sledding, so I played with Windows Movie Maker and came up with this:
We had so much fun, can you tell??? Everyone, including the adults, got in on the sledding. Unfortunately the camera battery ran out on us and we couldn't use it for the last hour or so. But the Dearest did get some good photos of the snowball fight:
more photos here
It was a great day- the perfect celebration for Monkey Boy, who turns six today!!!! Can you believe it??? I can't! I remember when he was this little:
And now look at him! My baby is no longer a baby.
It makes me sad, but at the same time MB has turned into such an interesting, fun kid that I'll forgive his growing up. He says the funniest things and has an opinion on *everything*. The kid can talk you into believing the sky is purple if he feels like it. At six years old, Monkey Boy loves:
Six-year-old Monkey Boy is a lively, completely extroverted little boy who makes me laugh and exasperates me daily. I'm so lucky to be his mom, and I'm so glad to see him growing up...so happy birthday Monkey Boy!
our annual Christmas Caroling...done inside because it was raining all week!
Finally time to open some presents on Christmas Eve!
G'ma P and G'pa T
We finished off Christmas day with a delicious filet mignon dinner cooked by the Dearest (no pics because we ate is so quickly!), plus a trip to see some outrageous Christmas lights at a nearby neighborhood. Everyone had their own cup of hot chocolate to sip while we enjoyed the light show. A nice end to a lovely Christmas!
Christmas Eve is the last day before Sneaky Fred flies back to Santa to file his report on the behavior of the small men over the holiday season. Every night, Fred finds a new hidey hole from which to watch the boys. Look at his very last hiding place this year....
(and thank you, Michele, for the funny idea!!!)
Well, we who live in So.Cal. (the land of Perpetual Mild Weather) are waking up to the fourth consecutive day of rain. Yes, I know that some of you are rolling your eyes, "Rain? What? Here in <insert Midwestern or Eastern seaboard city here>, we shovel our weather! A little rain ain't gonna melt you!"
No, but give us our due: we've had more rain in the past week than is normal for us for entire winter. And our rainy season hasn't even officially started yet! December is generally a dry month- the rain arrives in late January or early February. This season it's obviously come early with a record-breaking vengence. Good for our water supplies and the roofers, but bad for a busy momma like me who has to keep two small men entertained while cooped up!
Luckily, they have been spending the rainy days building 'forts' in the family room. This involves stripping all the sheets and pillows off of every bed in the house, plus stealing the couch cushions, barstools, and my big metal background clamps (and tape!) to hold everything together.
They have also been making additions to our new Christmas village:
We went to a friend's house a few days ago and they were fascinated by the elaborate village scene there. Little Man even asked if "we could get some houses, too"....so when I saw these two buildings for 60% off at a local store, I snapped them up.
They are a vast improvement over the houses we had growing up; these new ones come with fancy lights and are incredibly detailed. The small men were super excited to set up our 'village'. We don't have any accessories so we used a wrinkled white sheet for the base and of course Little Man got started right away on making some Lego additions.
Do you see the minifigs standing at the door of the cabin? What about the guy wearing a space helmet, peeking in the window? Monkey Boy helped out by making a Lego wall and a cargo truck to carry lots more Lego guys. I'm sure there might be one or two more Lego additions before Christmas arrives!
Wow, the last two weeks have been crazy around here. Between volunteering at the elementary school, shopping, and finishing up my gift-baking, it's been busy, busy, busy. But, here are the fruits of my labor for the past 10 days:
Homemade vanilla syrup, and apple rosemary marmalade. The vanilla syrup is delcious in coffee, or over pancakes. The marmalade is outstanding on savory meats like pork and chicken, but it's also quite good spread on a thick piece of buttered toast. I hot-water processed both of these so they are shelf-stable.
I found these squat "widemouth" jars at WalM@rt and thought they were really cute. So I canned some of the Apple Rosemary Marm in squat jars as well as the reguar 4oz jelly jars. I also found these cute red and white checked lids, which seemed perfect for the hoilday season.
The only drawback of the white bands was some of them got a bit rusty once I pulled them out of the hot water bath. :( If you look closely you can see a small amount of rust on the edge of the lid in the photo above. So I ended up keeping a few jars for us just because they didn't look as nice. The seal was fine, but I didn't want to give out rusty lids on my gifts.
I also made some Chocolate Toffee Brittle to hand out. The Brittle is one of those that starts with a base of saltine crackers; then you pour on caramel bake for a bit, and finally add bittersweet chocolate. During the holidays I also add swirls of red or green candy melts for a little color.
On the last day before Christmas Break, I gave both of the small men's teachers a gift bag with some of these homemade goodies in them. Hopefully they enjoy it! The last day of school was also Pajama Day, so everyone came to school wearing their PJs. The kids were all really cute, and even some of the teachers got in on the act.
Every Friday, they announce the birthdays for the next week and each birthday kid gets a special pencil from the principal. Monkey Boy's birthday falls over the Christmas break so he was quite excited to get his birthday pencil!
They were holding a "Desk Sale" in Little Man's class. Each child would bring in some items from home and they used their Scholar Dollars (which are earned throughout the semester) to make their purchases. Evidently LM had A LOT of Scholar Dollars because he came home with a big bag full of stuff.
Now it's officially Christmas break and I'm soooooo glad we don't have to wake up early for the next two weeks! Yay!!!!