Monday, December 31, 2007

This can't be good...

When we were un-decorating for Christmas this weekend, I found this:

We're in trouble.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

And Here's What I'm Giving

This is one of the four packages I sent out today. (Why can't any of you live closer? Chicago, this one's for you!) I absolutely adore the red wrapping paper with lime green polka dots and lime ribbon. Merry Christmas family!

Friday, December 14, 2007

All I want for Christmas is...

A new washer/dryer was definitely NOT on my list. That is, up until about 10 days ago when our old one decided to die. I've done my time at the laundromat and I am not going back. So last Saturday we went to Sears, Home Depot, Sears, Lowe's, and Sears in search of the perfect one. I had hoped that the next time I'd be picking out appliances we'd have a house and I'd pick out the posh ones you see advertised in magazines. While the pickings in stackable washer/dryers are quite slim, especially given the dimensions of our utility closet, we found a pretty front-loader. It's bigger than the old one and definitely has more bells and whistles (the old one was probably 15-20 years old). So thus it is: Merry Christmas to ME!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


The picture you see pretty much represents the view from our window FOR THE PAST 10 DAYS. Gross gray clouds with rain/snow/sleet almost every other day. So often that the weather people on TV have gotten lazy and don't even specify what kind of precipation; they just call it a "wintry mix." Our next storm is Saturday night into Sunday but they're afraid to tell us about that one yet. Yuck. Winter isn't even officially here yet, and I'm already sick of it. Hopefully everything will be clear for Monday: Arizona here we come!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Visit to Santa

Yesterday we went with our friends Maile, Kaia, and Asher to Macy's on 34th Street to see Santa. The line was set up like Disney World--lots of displays to look at while you are waiting. (Luckily, we didn't have to wait very long and probably held up people behind us as we were looking at the displays). Emma definitely liked the displays better than Santa. We don't have a picture of him because Emma wouldn't even let me put her down; she clung to me for dear life. She didn't cry, though, so I suppose it is a minor victory. We also went to a puppet show. I thought the story was a little lame, and Emma wasn't quite sure what to think--she alternately laughed or cried, with a little pointing in between. It was a fun holiday outing.

Emma looking at the displays. (Notice the *ponytail* sticking out from the top right of her head. It's small, but there. She looks like Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch).

More displays.

Hanging out with Asher (in green).


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Mr. Chuck E. Cheese

Yes, you read that right. Chuck E. Cheese. We went on Monday. Yes, the pizza still tasted semi-cardboard-y and they still have the huge animatronic rat. But, it was a pretty good way to spend a few hours on a cold day. We went with some friends whose kids were mostly older, and Emma had a blast following them around. She loved sliding down the slide in the toddler play area, and she even rode a couple of little rides, but mostly she just like wandering around holding the plastic cup that the tokens came in. Thanks for inviting us, Shelly!

Some pictures, of course:

From a photo booth.

Emma with the token cups. I wonder if next time we could just get the plastic cup without the tokens...

Monday, December 3, 2007

O Christmas Tree

This weekend we put up our Christmas tree. It is not fancy in any way, but we love it. We had a great time reminiscing about the ornaments and adventures from years past (we like to pick up ornaments on our travels). Below our pictures from the tree lot (aka the local Home Depot) and Emma and I in front of the finished product. So far Emma has not tried to touch the tree at all, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for a disaster-free Christmas!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

I made these for a book club gathering, and they were delicious. And the recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine, so they're (relatively) good for you, too. The picture doesn't quite do them justice.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 teaspoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
cooking spray

1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened pumpkin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 (8 oz.) package fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 large egg

Remaining ingredients:
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons water

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add flour to pan; cook 5 minutes or until light brown, stirring often. Remove pan from heat. Transfer flour to bowl; cool completely.
3. Combine cooled flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse 5 times or until combined. (I did this part by hand with a fork). Add chilled butter; pulse until mixture resembles fine meal. Press 1 cup of flour mixture evenly into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan coated with cooking spray; reserve the remaining flour mixture. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned.
4. To prepare filling, spread pumpkin in an even layer on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes.
5. Combine granulated sugar, 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, and cream cheeses in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed 2 minutes or until smooth. Scrape pumpkin into bowl using a rubber spatula. Add egg subsitute, cinnamon, vanilla, allspice, and egg; beat until smooth. Scrape batter into baked crust.
6. Combine reserved flour mixture and pecans in a small bowl; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons water. Squeeze handfuls of topping to form large pieces. Crumble over filling. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until filling is firmly set. Remove from heat; cool in pan on wire rack at room temperature. Cut into 12 portions. Serve at room temperature.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Carmen's Sticky Scab

My friend Ginger Churchill wrote a picture book called Carmen's Sticky Scab. It is published by Tanglewood Press and is available here. It is the story of a red-headed girl named Carmen, who (wait for it) gets a scab. She is warned by everyone from her parents to the lunch lady the potentially dire consequences of picking said scab. Sounds simple, right? But in Ginger's hands the results are hilarious and will conjure up scab memories you didn't know you had. Buy it for Christmas for everyone you know, whether they have kids or not. Trust me, they'll love it. And not because she's my friend, but because the end is so laugh-out-loud funny that your husband will come from two rooms away to see what you're laughing about.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Birthday Party

On Saturday, our good friends John and Lisa invited us over for a joint birthday party for Emma and their daughter, Mia. (The girls were born 10 days apart). Lisa and I went through our pregnancies together and the girls went through their first year so we thought it was only appropriate. Lisa made a yummy dinner, I made cupcakes, and Lisa even had party hats and bubbles! A lovely party all around.

Family pic!

The birthday girls! Note how Mia has cute little pig tails and Emma's hair just sticks out. :)

She's not sure what to think about the cupcake...

She finally ate a little of the frosting, but wasn't terribly impressed. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before she discovers her sweet tooth.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Disney World!

We had a *great* time at Disney World last week. (Thanks to Dave's dad for having a conference there and letting us piggy back on their vacation!) Emma was a delight. She loved looking around and managed really well without regular naps. The weather was fine, the company was great, the rides were thrilling, and the lines were short. What more could anyone ask for?

PS. There are a LOT of pictures. Feel free to skip them if you're not related to me. :)

Dave and Emma, pointing at the chickens in Animal Kingdom.

Clockwise from the empty seats at the top, you'll see Dave's brother Matt, Dave, and me on the Kali River Rapids.

Me, Matt, Poppy Dad, and Emma on the Safari.

Me, Matt, and Emma, who is so not impressed with the safari. :)

Dave, me, and Emma on the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.

Matt on the Indy Speedway.

Matt and Dave in front of the Rock'n Roller Coaster, their favorite.

Emma, me, and Matt on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority. Also a great place to take a nap--Emma fell asleep shortly after this was taken. Thanks to the kind people who let me ride this 3 times in a row.

Splash Mountain self-portrait.

On Dumbo!

On Cinderella's Golden Carousel.

Emma at her birthday lunch at Liberty Tavern.

Emma enjoying her birthday ice cream.

Family shot.

Dave, Emma, and Dave's parents, watching the parade.

Matt, Dave, and Emma hanging out in the Magic Kingdom.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Emma!

Emma turned 1 last Wednesday (November 7th). We were out of town at the time, but I didn't want the occasion to pass without making a list of why we love our girl.

1. She is a happy girl and claps for almost everything.

2. When she wakes up in the morning, she claps and waves her arms when you get her out of the crib. The same goes for when Dad comes home. It's definitely an ego boost for her parents.

3. She is very independent and is happy to entertain herself.

4. She weaned herself once she started table foods and will try almost anything, as long as you are eating it too.

5. Two words: button nose.

6. She is a dare devil. She loves to swim, swing, and go down the slide.

7. She has been to 10 states: New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Michigan, Arizona, Utah, California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Florida. She is a great traveler and loves seeing new things.

8. She learned to crawl, stand, and walk on her own. We showed her how to do it, but it wasn't until we left her on her own (and weren't watching) that she really figured it out.

9. She is not afraid to fall and rarely cries when she plops on her bum.

10. She is ours and we love her so!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Fun

We had a fun and busy day yesterday. By far the best part was the Halloween Parade in Hoboken. It's a pretty tame parade with a fire truck, the high school band, the local dog club, and LOTS of kids dressed in costume. Emma thought it was wonderful and kept pointing and saying "Wo-uh!" which I interpret as "look!" We walked with a bunch of our friends from Church and even trick-or-treated a bit at some of the stores.

The band, dressed as clowns.

A random Dorothy with her dog. (Emma LOVED all of the dogs--most of which were little Yorkies).

We have quite the stroller brigade.

Nina and Carson.

Ryanne, Emma, Nico

Linley, Mia, Ryanne, Emma

Isn't Henry's garbage man costume the coolest?

Emma (the astronaut), Cami (the princess in the stroller), Hannah (Cinderella), and Caleb (Robin Hood)

Emma and Carson

Michael (the cowboy) and Christopher (the dragon)

The chickens: Mia (in stroller) and Kaia

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

This recipe comes from Martha Stewart's special "Holiday: Halloween" issue. They are really quick, easy, and yummy, and you probably already have most of the ingredients. They'd also be fun with M&Ms or other candies for Christmas.

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
about 36 candy corns

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Reduce speed to low. Add flour, and beat until a dough forms.
2. Scoop out level teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls (chill dough briefly until it becomes too soft to handle). Space balls 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
3. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Remove from oven, and gently press a candy corn in the center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Let cool on sheets for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Variation:
1. Reduce the amount of flour given in the recipe to 1/2 cup.
2. Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour in step 1, and proceed.

Makes 36 small cookies. I doubled the recipe.